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Strong case for bicycle tracks on city footpaths

Aloysius Xavier Lopez
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The tracks are expected to increase patronage of metro rail and reduce traffic congestion around the stations —file photo
The tracks are expected to increase patronage of metro rail and reduce traffic congestion around the stations —file photo

Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has now started advocating bicycle tracks on all roads near metro stations by demarcating portions of widened footpaths for the purpose.

CMRL had recently requested the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) under the housing and urban development department to initiate measures for widening of footpaths to accommodate bicycles. Based on the written communication between CMRL and CMDA, the Chennai Corporation on Saturday initiated a study of existing conditions on footpaths near the proposed metro stations.

A study of the feasibility of such integrated footpaths and bicycle tracks is likely to be initiated shortly. The government may take a decision on integrating bicycle tracks on footpaths after widening them near metro stations.

The civic body has already decided to improve pedestrian facilities on many roads. However, it has been unable to commission bicycle tracks even after a number of announcements have been made in previous budgets.

“It is a great idea. But the design standards in India require at least 5.5-metre-wide stretch of land along one side of a road to create cycle tracks and footpath,” said Shreya Gadapalli, regional director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. “Trees are an integral part of a footpath. A footpath should be 1.8 metre wide with one metre buffer and 1.5 metre wide space for trees. A cycle track should be 1.5 to 2 metre in width,” she said.

CMRL, however, has not remarked about trees on the integrated footpaths and bicycle tracks.

The bicycle tracks are expected to increase patronage of metrorail. People can use smart cards to use a bicycle from one spot and drop it off at another. Traffic planners pointed to cities such as Paris and Guangzhou that have a network of bicycle tracks to cope with ‘local area congestion’ due to metro stations.

The Chennai Corporation is likely to make a list of roads that will be suitable for such facilities before the inauguration of metro rail.

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