Chennai

Non-motorised transport facilities still in nascent stage

A long way to go: A cycling track near the ‘Pallavan House’ on Pallavan Salai, off Anna Salai, on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: RAGU R

Cycling enthusiasts in the city are envious of the Chandigarh Smart City announcing an upgraded non-motorised transport draft policy with the focus on safety and incentivising cycling.

While Chennai had announced the non-motorised transport in 2014, not much progress has been made to encourage people to start using bicycle as the primary mode of transport to workplace or as the connectivity mode for public transport.

Felix John, an ardent advocate for non-motorist transport and a cycling enthusiast, said the Chandigarh Smart City, with its non-motorised transport draft policy announcement has earned kudos for the way it plans to promote cycling.

The Bicycle Mayor of Chennai pointed out that the cycle tracks, having been paved in the city by the Greater Chennai Corporation on the Sardar Patel Road for 17 km, were aimed at attracting only fitness enthusiasts, and not the common man who would prefer using bicycle as a primary mode of transport.

Mr. John said the lack of infrastructure alone was not the issue but the absence of the whole ecosystem. He wanted the State government to take its cue from Chandigarh’s non-motorised transport policy by providing monetary incentives through discounts in travel cards, segregated lanes exclusively for bicycles to avoid accidents and provision of safe and secured parking spaces.

Thirumalaivasan, a resident of Ashok Nagar, who has taken to cycling for fitness, said separate bicycle lanes on arterial roads would help popularise bicycle as the city’s primary mode as it once was. He said that with more fitness enthusiasts taking up cycling, safety at traffic junctions had become a concern. He said that as cycling was being done during early morning hours, it would be helpful if traffic policemen were posted at important junctions to help the cyclists cross traffic junctions safely.

Aswathy Dilip, Senior Programme Manager, ITDP, pointed out that the city was the first to adopt the non-motorised transport in the country, so one could not deny nothing has been done. The city had made great strides in creating amenities for pedestrians and cyclists, of which the T. Nagar pedestrian plaza was one of the landmark achievements.

Slow process

Ms. Dilip said developing facilities for the non-motorised transport is a step-by-step process wherein pedestrians took precedence over all other modes of transport with more than 90% of the first- and last-mile connectivity for using various public transport being by walk.

Citing the more than 150 km of safe walking space having been created, she said the next step would be the Mega Street project under which walking and cycling space were proposed to be created in six localities: Anna Nagar, Nungambakkam, Velachery, Adyar, Mylapore and Tondiarpet.

Ms. Dilip said: “Under the Mega Street project proposed by the Chennai Smart City, six urban designers from across the country would be involved in creating the amenities.”

A senior official of the Corporation said the non-motorised transport in Chennai focused primarily on creating safe pavements. Having developed wide and safe pavements for all sections, including the people with disabilities, the focus was shifting to increasing the length of the cycle lanes.

At present, cycle lanes are available in Besant Nagar, K.K. Nagar, Sardar Patel Road, and sections of Anna Salai. Also under the bicycle sharing project, more than 500 bicycles were put on the roads by creating cycle sharing stations at important places and metro stations.

The cycle sharing project, which came to a standstill owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, is again revived with a plan to add 500 electric bicycles. As part of this, a survey is also being conducted to make it a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 2:29:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/non-motorised-transport-facilities-still-in-nascent-stage/article34314183.ece

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