Downtown

Hop on the cycle

Pedal-friendly roads: The blueprint of a cycling track, which will go through P.T. Rajan Salai, Lakshmanswamy Salai, Ramaswamy Salai and other streets, was presented to residents and officials. Photo: S.S. Kumar

Pedal-friendly roads: The blueprint of a cycling track, which will go through P.T. Rajan Salai, Lakshmanswamy Salai, Ramaswamy Salai and other streets, was presented to residents and officials. Photo: S.S. Kumar  

Roads near PSBB School in K.K. Nagar will soon have a cycling track for students to ride in safety. K. Sarumathi reports

Despite spiralling fuel costs, alarming rise in diseases resulting from a sedentary lifestyle and congested city roads, the bicycle is still on the fringes. But there are many who hope the humble vehicle will occupy centre stage and be enabled to solve many of these problems. Proposals by the Corporation to create cycling tracks in various parts of the city keep alive this hope.

A cycling track and wider footpaths have been planned on the busy lanes of K.K. Nagar, next to a number of schools, including PSBB and Springfields.

A United States-based NGO, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, has been promoting the concept of Better Streets, Better City around the world and the construction of a cycling track and widening of footpaths on city roads are part of the programme.

In Chennai, 75 streets will be transformed into people-friendly stretches in the first phase of the project.

A collaborative effort between the Chennai Corporation, NGOs, architects and residents, the blueprint of the track, which will pass through P.T. Rajan Salia, Lakshmanswamy Salai and Ramaswamy Salai and perpendicular roads including Alagiriswamy Salai and Ponammalam Salai, was presented to residents and officials during a meet held recently.

“For the first time, architects are working with the Corporation on a development project. Our job pertains to design and involves efficient use of the available space. The almost 40 feet road will have a cycling track, a footpath and enough road space for vehicles to move smoothly,” says Sanjana of Triple O Studio, who is working along with members of Architecture Red, Transparent Chennai and City Connect on the project.

The focus is on keeping the city safe for pedestrians, who are its main components.

“Safety and wellbeing of the residents is the first concern. We want to make the city people-friendly.,” she adds.

Before presenting the blue print of the design, the architects did a detailed study of the area, talked to residents, analysed how much vehicular traffic the roads saw every day, the number students in the area and how the roads coped during peak hour traffic. “Based on the study we came to a conclusion that a dedicated cycling track for this school zone would really address the traffic issues in the area. It might also herald a new city culture, where people would rather walk or cycle than use other vehicles,” says Sanjana.

Though the project got positive response from residents, many where concerned about traffic situation turning worse after a track is constructed on the road. “To address this concern, we suggested making Lakshmanswamy Salai and Ramaswamy Salai one-way for all vehicles. This will allow free flow of traffic. The Mayor assured to create some route diversions,” she adds.

Parking on these streets is also a major problem, so a network of parking spaces has been identified around the streets for two-wheelers, cars and cycles. “This is one step ahead in road design where we understand the needs of the residents and consult them before starting the project.”

The construction of the cycling track will only commence after the elections and is likely to be ready by the year end. Besides K.K. Nagar, places such as Besant Nagar, Chamiers Road, Bharatidasan Salai will also be covered in the first phase. Designs for each area will be tweaked according to the demography. Those that have school zones will have a cycling track, others will get a wider footpath. “We want to give pedestrians 2 metres of unobstructed footpath space. On narrow road, the corporation plans to realign trees to facilitate the project,” says Sanjana.

In the second phase of project, 300 roads in Chennai are likely to be covered.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 8:42:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/hop-on-the-cycle/article5746079.ece

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