Struggle for space, dignity for cyclists in Gurugram
For city’s cyclists who pedal to work every day, the lack of on-road safety is an everyday reality which only becomes a talking point for authorities when someone loses their life, something that happened twice this month—on Saturday and on May 3, both times on the Subhash Chowk flyover.
“Motorists never make space for us on road. How can we ask them to move? Cyclists are the ones who have to make way for them,” commented Rajnath Rai, a fruit vendor in Vijay Chowk who had met with an accident a few years ago when his cycle was hit by an autorickshaw.
Rai, who spends an average of two hours pedalling across city roads, is part of the population for whom cycling, and thus endangering their life every day, is a compulsion.
“Every day, at least 20,000 workers pedal to the industrial areas of the city,” said Ashok Kohli, president of the Chamber of Industries-Udyog Vihar.
Although the city has cycle lanes in some areas, inadequate length, pot holes, lack of signage and encroachment defeat their purpose. Kush Kumar, a canteen helper, said, “I know there is a cycle lane here, but look at the number of cars parked on it. How can I use it?”
Echoing Kumar’s despair, Manas Fuloria, a passionate cyclist and CEO-cofounder of Nagarro, which supports sustainable transport initiatives, said, “How can authorities expect cyclists to carry their cycles across overbridges? They need cycling tracks and safe crossings at busy intersections.”
Fuloria said the demand for cycle lanes on every road has been pending for years, which, if fulfilled, will ensure safer and faster commute for cyclists.
For 76-year-old Ved Prakash, freedom from constantly applying brakes and getting down from the cycle would mean less work for his aging knees. “I got a low cycle for this reason,” he said.
Inconsideration on part of authorities when planning road infrastructure means cyclists have to take longer routes while cars take the short-cut.
“There are two U-turns on Iffco Chowk, for me that means an extra 1.5km. I have to take the flyover which is even more dangerous for us because we are there with speeding bikes and cars. The intersections are also difficult to negotiate,” said 29-year-old RP Shukla, a delivery associate.