Needed in Bengaluru: Bicycle networks that don’t follow road networks

I was at the launch of the Cycle to Work campaign along with the Mayor and the Bicycle Mayor last week. It was very nice to see many cyclists come together, hopeful of renewed efforts to make their commutes and other rides easier and safer.

The program is designed to enroll corporates in supporting their employees who cycle to work, and a template for that is being put together. Looking back at lake revival efforts over the last decade, I feel the push for cycling can also work, if I we adopt the key learnings. I offered a few thoughts on this, and was happy to note the Mayor’s immediate acceptance of some suggestions.

1. Some goals can seem daunting and far away, and citizens worry that unless the government is committed, they cannot be achieved. Perhaps, but there is more. Governments don’t have fixed positions on many things, and they also sometimes don’t know what to do. By our involvement and persistence, we can increase the government’s commitment to the things we care about, and also improve the capacity of public administration.

2. Structured interventions help. This means two things in particular – a dedicated Budget to support cycling, and officials in the municipal administration whose only job is to promote cycling. The Mayor agreed right away to both, and that’s a good start.

3. Recognition for good work creates a positive cycle of gains for public goals. There are lots of people who have been doing their part to move the needle on complex problems. We must be deliberate in holding them up as role models and inviting others to emulate them.

4. It helps to think of problems in multiple ways, and give ourselves greater chance of success. In the case of cycling, we must of course seek fair allocation of road space for bikers, but we can also think of a new network for cycling that doesn’t follow the road network. Other cities have done this, with some success. I used to live next to one such trail in Seattle when I was in grad school, and found it sensible that the cycle path was often distinct from the road network. In Bangalore too, something like that is possible. Bicycle paths around the 30 to 50 largest lakes could form the backbone of such an alternative, and we could then work on the connections between them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Bengaluru’s civic volunteers exhausted but not out

The masterclass 'is there burnout in civic activism?' highlighted the importance of youth engagement and modern communication skills.

There is a sense in our city that civic activism, which was once thriving with street protests and events and mass mobilisations like #SteelFlyoverBeda, is disappearing, particularly post COVID. 'Is civic activism dying?' – when we were asked to moderate a masterclass on this topic at the India Civic Summit, organised by Oorvani Foundation on March 23rd, it led to an animated discussion. We agreed that while the masterclass title has to be provocative, the ultimate objective is to understand the trends, get more people to become active citizens by sensing citizens' motivations and fears, and understand the role of…

Similar Story

City Buzz: Mumbai billboard collapse | L&T to exit Hyderabad Metro… and more

In other news this week: Trends in senior living market in cities; vision problems predicted for urban kids and the rise of dengue in Bengaluru.

Mumbai billboard collapse throws light on sorry state of civic safety At least 16 died and 74 were injured when a 100-foot-tall illegal billboard collapsed in the eastern suburb of Ghatkopar in Mumbai, during a thunderstorm on May 14th. It fell on some houses and a petrol station, disrupting life in the region. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allows a maximum hoarding size of 40×40 feet, but this billboard was 120×120 feet. Last week itself, BMC had recommended action against Bhavesh Prabhudas Bhinde, 51, director of Ego Media Pvt Ltd, which owned the contract for the hoarding on a 10-year lease.…