Lack of dedicated track puts brakes on cycling in Puducherry

A resident cycling near the Boulevard in Puducherry on Friday.

A resident cycling near the Boulevard in Puducherry on Friday. | Photo Credit: KUMAR SS

Though cycling has picked up in the city as a sustainable mode of transport, the lack of supportive infrastructure such as cycle docking stations and a dedicated cycle track for safe and hassle-free movement is yet to come up in Puducherry.

The Public Bicycle Sharing System (PBSS) was conceptualised in 2019 to promote cycling culture in the city. However, not a single lane has been readied on any of the key roads in the city, say cyclists.

According to P. Gopalakrishnan, vice-president of Pondicherry Cyclists’ Association, though the city has more than 500 cycling enthusiasts, there is no system in place to ensure a hassle-free passage for cyclists.

“The city’s traffic has no empathy for cyclists. Motorists and other vehicle users show scant respect and cyclists are subjected to continuous honking and even verbal abuse by vehicle users to keep them off the road. With the city lacking dedicated cycle lanes, cyclists participate in rides on the East Coast Road and roads in the northern suburbs of Oussudu and Thirukkanur,” he said.

According to S. Nadarajan, a resident, “The grid-pattern design of Puducherry conceptualised by the French during the pre-merger days was more ideal for cycling as two-wheelers and cars were very scarce then. Bicycles were so popular that school headmasters and teachers used them for commuting to their workplace. The municipal authorities levied taxes on bicycles and small metallic pieces containing the words ‘Bicyclette Pondicheri’ were affixed on the brake pads. The tax was payable annually,” he said.

The Pondy Pedalers, which began in 2018 with 15 enthusiasts, has now more than 150 members including kids, professionals and sexagenarians, and conducts regular rides to Auroville and within the Boulevard. according to A.R. Mohana Krishnan, founding-member of Pondy Pedalers.

“Cities like Visakhapatnam, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad have dedicated cycling tracks. Given the rise in number of cycling enthusiasts in Puducherry, the government should create cycle routes with the required infrastructure and amenities. This has been a long-pending demand,” he said.

S. Baranidarane, an employee of a private firm in Thattanchavady, said that he regularly used a bicycle to commute to his workplace in Mettupalayam even though he had a bike and car at home.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made people realise that cycling is the best form of physical fitness. Cycling is not only healthy but also improves cardio-vascular fitness and reduces stress,” he said.

An official of the Puducherry Smart City Corporation Development Limited (PSCDL) pointed out that a dedicated cycle track of 10.3 km had been planned as part of PBSS under the Smart Cities Mission.

The project was proposed through 10 locations in the Boulevard. However, there was a delay by the system integrator in commencing operations and he was served with a termination notice. Work on establishing necessary infrastructure for PBSS would commence soon, he said.

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Printable version | Sep 4, 2022 9:58:33 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/union-territory-of-puducherrycycling-in-puducherry/article65740257.ece