City Matters | Chennai

Cycling catching on, but facilities lacking

Calm traffic: Cycling enthusiasts have called for a multi-pronged approach to make non-motorised transport popular in Chennai.

Calm traffic: Cycling enthusiasts have called for a multi-pronged approach to make non-motorised transport popular in Chennai.

Cycling is picking up in the city, but the infrastructure needs to keep pace with the growth.

The number of residents who have tracked their cycling trips using an app in Chennai has increased from 4,866 in 2018 to 18,255 in 2021, said Felix John, a cyclist, who has been designated Bicycle Mayor of Chennai. During the same period, the number of cycling trips in the city has increased from 78,068 to 2.68 lakh.

“A bicycle should become a lifestyle choice, meaning it should become our habit. Reducing the dependency on motor vehicles and relying more on alternative modes of sustainable transport for short distances is important. To build a cycling culture, we need to do this on a continuous basis and also amplify the benefits to the fellow commuters. In all this, residents of the cities play an important role and only together can we build a better city,” said Mr. John.


“The government needs to provide better infrastructure, legal support and policy to reduce congestion, traffic and pollution. Safety is the number one concern, both for elders and kids when it comes to non-motorised transport. It takes a lot of effort for an individual to decide and take up an alternative mode of transport.”

To allow that, the city has to become safe in terms of alternative routes, protect bicycle lanes, introduce traffic calming measures, temporary interventions and create awareness.

One of the key requirements was safe parking space for bicycles. “A bicycle could cost you approximately ₹10,000 and to leave it unattended by a simple lock calls for prying eyes. To avoid the theft of a bicycle, a city should have supporting safe parking infrastructure. While this needs a lot of planning and progress, the attention to cycling has been incrementally improving over the past few years, which is an added boon,” Mr. John said.

Aswathy Dilip, South Asia Director, ITDP, said the adoption of the NMT (non-motorised transportation) policy by the Greater Chennai Corporation has created more than 150 km of safe streets for walking and cycling. However, the pace of this transformation has slowed down over the last year, she says.

“During this time period, Bangalore, through its Sustainable Mobility Accord, is creatingvarious safe walking and cycling neighbourhoods. Karnataka has released a progressive NMT Bill that will ensure that roads in all its urban local bodies are created as people-centric connected ‘Complete Streets.’Tamil Nadu should adopt a ‘Right to Walk’ Act that ensures that all new streets created in its urban local bodies will be designed with safe walking and cycling infrastructure. It should mandate footpaths and cycle tracks on existing streets whenever they are redeveloped,” she says.

Chennai should fast track the creation of wide, connected, and safe footpaths and bicycle tracks, where possible, on all its arterial streets and traffic calm its neighbourhoods. These projects need coordination among various agencies — GCC, Highways Department, CMWSSB, traffic police and TNEB. “Fast tracking CUMTA or setting up an NMT committee is essential for the same,” says Ms. Dilip.

IT professional J. Chidambara Perumal, who is a resident of Padi Kuppam Main Road in Anna Nagar West, says the civic officials have to remove encroachment on roads and develop cycling infrastructure in Anna Nagar to facilitate bicycle connectivity to schools and IT companies in the Ambattur zone.

Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi says the civic body is putting up a major cycling track along the Buckingham Canal with beautiful landscape.

In a bid to promote NMT, the Corporation plans to develop bicycle docking stations at 500 locations in the city, to be added to the existing 100.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 11:00:14 pm |