Inviting all cyclists to ride for a safer environment
Mumbai’s cycling culture has been growing rapidly but unfortunately in an unorganised and scattered manner. At present, road space is shared with a variety of users including cars, trucks, buses, pedestrians and hand carts. To encourage and sustain this growth, adequate space and safety are two key aspects that are essential for cycling to become a mainstream mode of transport in the city. While a continuous network of cycling paths is required, safety measures such as lower vehicle speeds and segregated pathways can also significantly encourage this growth. “Roughly 70 percent of trips are within 5 kms, which is ideal for bicycling. Cycling is also a more efficient use of road space. An interesting experiment in Europe had pedestrians and cyclists carry a car-sized wireframe to indicate the space taken by vehicles versus the space required for cycling. Cities in Europe such as Copenhagen, have a bicycling plan to go with the city mobility plans. Indian cities which are experiencing rapid automobile growth and congestion need to start thinking along these lines and develop bicycle networks,” says Priyanka Vasudevan, Founder Member of Equal Streets and Senior Associate of Urban Transport at EMBARQ India.
The bicycle is a simple solution to some of the most complicated urban challenges we face today – pollution, traffic control, stress management, obesity and health hazards. As a frequent and enthusiastic cyclist, and Founder Member of Equal Streets, Nishant Patel is a recreational cyclist, who makes it a point to commute to work on his cycle, at least once a week. “With health awareness rising, people world over have taken on to outdoor sports, cycling being a major one. Cycling is many things – it is anti-stress,leisure, health, fellowship; in essence it’s exhilarating.”
Today, the cycling culture in Mumbai is on the rise, with over 25 cycling clubs and around 4000 regular and amateur riders. The frequency of on-road accidents has been increasing, particularly in the case of solo riders. Hence there is a need to spread awareness on safety rules and regulations, among riders as well as motorists and pedestrians. With more amateurs joining the cycling fraternity, knowledge about safe practices and infrastructure can facilitate a better environment and coordination among groups. Indian roads are public spaces shared by multiple road users and it is important that design, behaviour and enforcement tie in together to manage this space.
User-friendly design, good behaviour and strict enforcement are key components to ensuring an improved cycling environment in the city. As a way to inform public behaviour and awareness to issues around cycling and safety, the Equal Streets Ride to Pledge Safety event has been organized. The purpose is share, understand, learn, and pledge to follow good practices and rules for better awareness and knowledge on safe cycling habits. It is also a good way for amateurs and potential riders to meet with highly active and enthusiastic cyclists in the city. The Equal Streets initiative includes a list of cycling clubs, namely Only Cycling, Cycling all the Way, the Juhu and Lokhandwala Cycling Club, the Bandra Cycle Club and the Mumbai Cycling Enthusiasts. On the 11th of January, Equal Streets will conduct a Ride to Pledge Safety, starting at National College, Bandra at 7am.
Harish Wahi, Founder Member of Equal Streets and a frequent cyclist, discusses the importance of cycling behaviour. Harish generally does short rides of around 30 kms and enjoys longer rides of up to 100 kms on weekends. As one who greatly enjoys his daily dose of cycling, Harish manages his own cycling club and is keen to encourage more people to get active. “Through this event, we are urging all cyclists, cycling clubs, amateurs, and new riders to come together, understand the rules and regulations, and pledge to do your bit and follow them.”Making cycling a safe mode of transport can help in encouraging more potential cyclists and moving towards a more cycle-friendly city. For more information and to sign up, log onto the event Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1516091315318202