Cities » Bengaluru

Updated: February 28, 2012 09:41 IST

For cyclists, it's a battle for space

Mohit M. Rao
Comment (17)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Only two per cent of the city’s population cycles regularly to work. File photo: K. Gopinathan
The Hindu
Only two per cent of the city’s population cycles regularly to work. File photo: K. Gopinathan

What does it take for an avid cyclist — who took cycling beyond recreation to his primary mode of transport to work for over six years — to give up cycling to work altogether?

For software engineer Ravi Ranjan Kumar, cycling the distance of around 21 km from his house on Sarjapur Road to his office in Whitefield, became unbearable after the construction of flyovers began on this stretch. “The roads are bad, and there is a lot of dust from the construction. At these points, the traffic piles up and a cyclist is just breathing exhaust fumes at these junctions,” said the 34-year-old.

‘We get no respect'

However, even before the construction deterred him from cycling, the 45-minute journey was a battle for space with motorists on the roads. “Motorists don't give cyclists any respect,” said Mr. Kumar.

Perhaps, it is due to these experiences and fears that only two per cent of the city's population cycles regularly to work.

However, with a slew of ambitious plans to encourage cycling in the city, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) hopes to see an increase in these numbers.

Cycling lanes

Among the proposals are cycling lanes and other facilities for cyclists in Jayanagar, Madiwala, M.G. Road area, Malleswaram, Indiranagar, R.T. Nagar, Koramangala, RMV Extension and HSR Layout.

The development of these areas is part of an attempt to get more citizens to cycle to work. The concept of cycling to work would involve bypassing major roads.

For example, a cyclist in HSR would have easy travel into Madiwala, and from there to Koramangala. Similarly, cyclists from RMV Extension would have easy access to Malleswaram and R.T. Nagar.

“Cyclists are scared of traffic. Incorporating a lane for them would encourage more people to cycle to work,” said DULT Commissioner Manjula V.

Last-mile connectivity

Apart from this, cycling would also be an integral part of last-mile connectivity in the city. “While the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has agreed to give parking space for their cycles at TTMCs (Transit Traffic Management Centres), Namma Metro has, in principle, agreed to provide the facility in its stations,” she said.

However, it would take time for the project to be fully realised. While the Jayanagar project was “under implementation”, the Madiwala one is awaiting approval by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council.

Most other projects are in the initial survey stages, or have been stalled due to the flurry of infrastructure constructions in the city.

Though hesitant to give a time-frame for the completion of these projects, Ms. Manjula hoped the percentage of people commuting by bicycle would increase to 10 per cent of the commuter population.

More In: Bengaluru

I saw some lanes made for cycling in Pune. But, unfortunately, I very
seldom saw cycles on those lanes. Always, two-wheelers and auto
rickshaws are using those lanes. There is no one to check.

from:  Raghav
Posted on: Mar 14, 2012 at 14:50 IST

@andrew knotts writes: The govt. should discourage private transport and should encourage public transport and bicycle use among the general public, along the lines of Singapore and other civilized countries. Why assume that today's India is one of the civilised countries?

from:  Pandit
Posted on: Feb 29, 2012 at 11:09 IST

Like most things, cyclists are close to the bottom of the pecking
order. The very same 4-wheelers who drive the cyclists out of the
road, meekly surrender to an overloaded truck. What's needed: tough
laws and ruthless enforcement of the laws; where the law is tipped in
favor of pedestrians and cyclists such as in The Netherlands for e.g.
where the entire country is linked via bike lanes. Even senior
managers (VPs etc.) bike to work in winter/snow and during the several
months of rain. Kids go to school on bicycles with no fear. I bet even
if we had bicycle friendly lanes it'll be encroached by pedestrians,
scooters/bikes and finally our (in)famous ability to construct roads
that resemble lunar surface with craters. So my cynical view is that
cyclists will have to resign themselves to sharing the roads with the
species higher up in the pecking order and continue believing in
karma, power of prayers or good ol' statistics and live for the

from:  sriram krishnan
Posted on: Feb 29, 2012 at 03:09 IST

I'm an automobile engineering student staying in pune,recently got job in an automobile company. Initially as all my friends do i thought of taking a bike with my 1st salary.
But Then i thought a travel need of 5Km daily to and fro surely doesn't need a bike to pollute my city. So,I bought a cycle and to reduce my effort took a geared one. I thought initially that I would be criticized but instead it gave me a special respect and appreciation from all my colleagues and friends.
This Idea was greatly supported because my company has a special parking stand for cycles and municipality here have a separate lane for cycles.
On cycle to a company is surely a thrilling one with a good exercise
I wish that every city municipality should take such an initiative to build cycle lanes,every public places and companies should have a parking facility for cycles to encourage cyclists

from:  arun Chavali
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 20:25 IST

I, like Mr. Ravi commute over 40 kilometers every day (from Whitefield to Richmond

I would love to see a dedicated cycle lane from Hope Farm to Trinity Circle or even
Majestic. These roads are wide, and still have space to accommodate a cycle lane.
There are number of people on this route who commute on a cycle because they
cannot afford a bike or a car. And it would be nice to encourage them to stick to a

I am not sure if anyone surveyed the existing cycle traffic on some of these roads
before they decided to adopt Jaya Nagar for cycle lanes. The Big 10/Circle approach,
a la BMTC would be good for cycle lanes too.

My commute has been mostly pleasant. A number of people wave at me or say
something encouraging. There are always some morons who cut me off or try to kill
me. But, they have been few and far off. I have learnt to ride very defensively and
hopefully will remain safe.

Wearing cycle clothing (Helmet, Bibs & Jersey) definitely helps win more respect!

from:  Joseph George
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 16:50 IST

Good move. But in ITPL ,whitefield area there are no lanes for bicycles and it will be very tough to cross the roads with bicycle. I think they should make the bicycle roads or allow bicycles on the footpath as what they do in japan.
Hope things will improve soon and i should cycle to office one or two days atleast

from:  Manjunatha Reddy
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 16:24 IST

B'lore, Pune, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawda, more cities are planning for the same thing. Cycling Lanes! This will be really useful only when the people respect the rules as we see people riding bikes on footpath(not a wonder), jumping over traffic signals(as if they are meant to decorate the smoky sky). Late last week I came across a cartoon (a person being shifted to hospital with oxygen supply and he sufocates more..) and it reads "..mumbaikars are not used to oxygen", this is everywhere in all the cities. Single and Double occupancy cars are to be fined everyday at every signal by every traffic police. There should be some lane discipline. Enough of autos, stop the registration. These are few steps that would help us to live longer in cities like these.

from:  Raja Pamarthi
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 16:03 IST

Actually there is no space for cyclists on road in any of the metro-
cities. There should be free parking available for cyclists and special
lanes and should be encouraged by government before the cities go carbon
black and suffocating.

from:  Ganesh
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 15:34 IST

Like in developed countries there should be rules to give priority for
cyclists over motorists. Right now there is no heed for cyclists, and
motorists try to ignore them. If priorities become a rule, then all
cyclists will be given right of way, and it will be more safe and
rewarding to cycle.

from:  Rakesh
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 15:21 IST

There is virtually no space on the Bangalore roads. First, we need to stop allowing cars into central business district. Impose tolls on cars which has less than 2 people (including driver). This will deter all those single occupancy cars to think about car pooling.
Cars are a bane. They consume so much of road space and add to congestion, pollution etc.

from:  harsha
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 13:13 IST

Construction of cycle lane should be made mandatory for all roads in
India. The oil prices are going to skyrocket in coming years, I dont
think car and even bikes aren't going to be a feasible vehicles unless
run without oil. Govt is taking initiative to move towards green energy,
the cycle path also should also be considered in that agenda. It is
again left to will of political leaders and higher govt executives, to
take up the issue with priority.

from:  Vinay Patil
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 12:48 IST

I feel the best way to travel is bicycle owing to traffic chaos/jam everyday in banglore. However, I havent made up my mind to buy bicyle cuz of the way people drive on roads, absolutely no common sense. NO rules followed, people drive on all directions and seems like signals are kept for their entertainment. They have tried to have separate lanes for autos in city centre, are they being used? -- NO.. So having a separate lane for bicyle, will help cyclists, only Hope.

from:  sania
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 12:40 IST

Bicycles are the most eco-friendly mode of transport which is good for
health as well. It is a tragedy that only 2% of the city's population
uses bi-cycles. This may be due to hostile traffic, especially private
cars and bikes. It is because of these private cars and bikes that
the traffic congestion has become unbearable. The govt. should
discourage private transport and should encourage public transport and
bicycle use among the general public, along the lines of Singapore and
other civilized countries. This is the only way out of present traffic
congestion and environmental pollution caused by vehicular traffic.

from:  Andrew Knotts
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 11:37 IST

What does Mr. Ravi Ranjan Kumar expect? For us Indians, our mode of transport is just an extension of our ego! Just mow the smaller vehicles out of the way! Is there any other attitude ever on display anywhere?

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 11:26 IST

You would have to be an optimist to think that these plans will ever work out. Even if cycle lanes are constructed, what is the guarantee that no motorists would use that lane? If you have lived in Bangalore long enough and had even half a brain, you would know all this is not going to materialise at all.

from:  Rangaram
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 10:45 IST

Even though I have just started cycling to work, I have seen this crass
attitude in both two wheeler and four wheeler drivers. They give out a
vibe that the road is not meant for a cyclist and we are virtually
invisible to everybody. Hope the government's solution helps. But ultimately it comes down to the everyday motorist.

from:  Chandan
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 10:42 IST

It is a welcome move to create cycle lanes in the city. I started cycling from Jayanagar to my office (back in 2003) in Residency road and it was a nightmare. A comprehensive cycling plan would be wonderful for a city like Bangalore. I had to fight with my HR to make an exemption. My MNC company security folks would not even allow me into the building saying there was no parking facility for cyclists ! And there was no shower or change room facility. So I used to march into work in my shorts and T-shirts sweating and panting and change clothes in an empty toilet. In the end my cycle was stolen from the parking lot while I was away for a couple of months. And there was round the clock security :) Ah, those were the days!

from:  Hari
Posted on: Feb 28, 2012 at 09:59 IST
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