In perennial slow lane, Chandigarh’s cycling tracks a picture of neglect | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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In perennial slow lane, Chandigarh’s cycling tracks a picture of neglect

At a time when the administration has started work to increase city’s cycle track length from 70km to 99km, HT finds that the fundamental issue of bad design of the tracks has gone unnoticed. In a two-part series, we also take stock of the UT administration’s efforts to promote cycling in the city

punjab Updated: May 04, 2017 10:30 IST
A cycle track in Sector 7, Chandigarh, is infrequently used.
A cycle track in Sector 7, Chandigarh, is infrequently used. (Keshav Singh/HT Photo)

If ever there was a city in the country that could possibly match the cycling culture of European cities — it had to be the City Beautiful. The city, in fact, is planned to suit the cyclist, with a cycle track of at least 70 km that the administration now proposes to increase to 99km.

However, before cyclists can actually use the track, they negotiate a large speed-breaker — the fundamentally bad engineering design of the tracks. Poor maintenance simply acts as the final braking point for cycling enthusiasts

At some places, tracks are being used for parking by auto-rickshaw and cab drivers, and are also not properly lit which makes it difficult to use after them sunset. Cycle tracks end at the roundabouts making it risky for cyclists to merge with heavy moving traffic. But the bigger problem is the dumping of garbage on these tracks.

A dug-up cycle track in Sector 20. (Keshav Singh/HT Photo)

Buying 10,000 cycles flies in the face of reality

So, even as the ground reality has broadly remained the same, the UT administration is in process of finalising a company to introduce public bicycle sharing system. Meant to promote use of bicycles and use alternative transport systems, the Chandigarh Smart City Limited (CSCL) has started the project. Under this, 10,000 bicycles are to be bought for 600 busy points.

In December, the administration also started work on repairing and construction of new bicycle tracks. The aim is to increase the track length in the city to 99km.

Cyclists, pedestrians most vulnerable to fatalilities

If one considers the fatal road causalities reported every year in Chandigarh, cyclists are most vulnerable. They are followed by pedestrians. Between January 2010 and December 2017, 240 cyclists and 355 pedestrians were killed in accidents on city roads, records show.

Even otherwise, it is a common sight to see cyclists moving on the main road, with motorists using cycle tracks.

What does faulty design mean
  • Cycle tracks open at roundabouts
  • Most cycle tracks open at roundabouts directly, which are already very congested during peak hours.
  • At junctions, cyclists get confused
  • No markings to distinguish cycle tracks.
  • UT authorities have failed to sensitise cyclists and pedestrians to use these tracks

Master Plan 2031 mentions making city a hub

Chandigarh Master Plan 2031 has laid a lot of stress on making the city a pedestrian and cycle-friendly cit. It has been proposed to revive V-7 roads as intended for bicycles in the Master Plan of Chandigarh.

Experts say that the design can be set right easily. “The administration has never consulted experts, even as there is a lot to do set the tracks right. There are faults galore,” says civil engineer Gurpreet Narang.

Sanjay Goyal, chairman, Indian Institute of Architects, Chandigarh-Punjab chapter, says, “There are design solutions which can be applied to new roundabouts, or to adapt existing roundabouts, to make them significantly safer and more convenient.”

“We plan to increase the track length to 99km. Once this is done, we will consult experts on the design aspect. The width of cycle track on the Madhya Marg is being increased,” said UT chief engineer Mukesh Anand.