The prohibition imposed on the use of bicycle and non-motorised vehicles in 174 designated roads of Kolkata in order to create more space for powered vehicles (“Bicycle phobia,” Oct. 7) is undemocratic. It violates the fundamental right of poor citizens running their business in an eco-friendly manner. Biking saves money, reduces stress, and air and noise pollution. It is an exercise that has many health benefits.
In the U.S., programmes are run to reward individuals and businesses for their commitment to cleaner air, personal health and use of pedalling energy to create a more sustainable community. We should build special roads for bicycles to encourage cycling.
The move points to the short-sightedness of West Bengal’s policymakers. Cycles are the most eco-friendly means of transport; they do not emit fumes. They occupy very little space on the roads. They are perhaps the only solution to congestion on the roads.
The cycle is the symbol of the working class as most of those who use it are daily wage earners, security guards, milk vendors, newspaper hawkers, marginal farmers and vegetable vendors who can’t afford public transport. The West Bengal government’s move is absurd. Many European nations are struggling to make cycling more popular with movements like ‘back-to- bicycle.’ The charge that bicycles slow down traffic is baseless.
The bicycle is the poor man’s vehicle. If people do not oppose the latest move in Kolkata, a time will come when pedestrians will be asked to keep off the roads during specified hours. Are roads meant only for the privileged sections?
Thousands will be affected by the West Bengal government’s decision. Bicycles are the only solution for the ever increasing pollution and fuel prices. Not everyone has the money to buy motor vehicles or use public transport.
M. Rahul Reddy,
The editorial has rightly pointed out that “bicycles as a mainstream transport option are under threat today, as it is difficult and risky to ride them in crowded cities.” The use of the humble two-wheeler is already restricted and the trend is set to grow. Soon, bicycles will go off the roads. It is ineffective planning that is responsible for the lack of adequate space for powered vehicles. Protests calling for the revocation of the ban order in parts of Kolkata are fully justified.
We are losing most of our dollar credit to fuel import, which is making the rupee weaker against the dollar. The government should encourage the use of non-motorised vehicles rather than ban it.
Kapil Dev Surira,
When I went to the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, the organisers gave me a bicycle after I registered for the event, with the note that it would be my conveyance till the end of the festival. Even the staff were asked to use cycles.