Karnataka government drafts bill to ensure facilities for pedestrians, cyclists
The Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) on Wednesday prepared a draft Active Mobility Bill, Karnataka 2021, mandating Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to ensure the implementation of facilities for road users and proposes a fine if the bodies fail to do so
The Karnataka government has prepared a draft to propose a bill that ensures facilities for pedestrians and cyclists across cities, but past projects raise concerns about the implementation of the project, Bengaluru residents said on Thursday.
The Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) on Wednesday prepared a draft Active Mobility Bill, Karnataka 2021, mandating Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to ensure the implementation of facilities for road users and proposes a fine if the bodies fail to do so.
“It is aimed at protecting the rights of pedestrians and cyclists to safe, accessible and connected pedestrian and cycling networks in urban areas in the State, with a view to promote sustainable urban mobility and build healthy communities,” the draft stated.
The draft has been proposed as the current legal framework does not have specific provisions to determine and protect the rights of pedestrians and cyclists, and give them equitable space on roads, read the draft.
“An exponential increase in the number of vehicles on urban streets has caused congestion and deteriorated air quality. It has also led to a rise in road fatalities with pedestrians and cyclists more at risk,” the draft bill stated.
“The legislation is aimed at giving the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists,” it added.
Satya Shankran, Bengaluru’s first ‘Bicycle Mayor’, and founding member of Praja-Raag, a city-based citizens’ group, said it is on the lines of the Singapore model. If the government accepts and makes the bill official, it will help solve traffic issues to a large extent in the state, he added.
However, the current state of cycle lanes in Bengaluru raises concerns about the ambitious project. Even as the newly developed cycle lanes in the Central Business District (CBD) appear to be a hit, riders feel the overall number of tracks available remain insufficient to enable them to pedal without running into traffic or pedestrians.
Shankran said that as per the comprehensive mobility plan of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Pallike (BBMP), the idea was to develop 174km of cycle tracks in the city. “We took up the matter with the authorities and got it changed to developing 600 km in the next 10 years. But this is still not enough,” he said.
He said the city has 14,000 km of roads, of which only around 2,000 km are 15 m wide or more and ideal for cycling. “Going by this, the current plan provides only 30% of the roads for cycle tracks. Even if we agree on these plans, the pace of development is slow,” he said.
Rajesh Jain, a software developer from Marathahalli, said one of the biggest problems with cycling tracks in the city is the lack of continuity. “I understand that cycle lanes are present in the city but there needs to be a plan for a seamless track in the city. As of now, they are constructing tracks wherever smart city projects are coming up. But I’ve noticed that they are in patches. There should be a vision to connect the city using cycle lanes.”