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Can Pune embrace bicycles once again?

With a preliminary estimate of Rs.300 crore (which could easily go up to Rs.500 crore), the PMC has proposed a Cycle Network Plan of approximately 470-km of Segregated Cycle Tracks

pune Updated: Sep 13, 2017 17:23 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Concept visualisation of the proposed cycle track, as part of the Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, on SB road, Pune.
Concept visualisation of the proposed cycle track, as part of the Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, on SB road, Pune.(HT Photo)

Can Pune, which was once the cycling capital of India, return to its glorious past?

Can citizens cycle peacefully and safely in their neighbourhoods for distances of five to seven kilometres? Or if they desire, longer distances on a daily basis?

With support from the Urban Development Ministry, a group of visionaries and planners led by Pune Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar certainly think so.

Last month, the PMC in association with a consortium of ITrans- a Delhi-based transportation planning firm, Prasanna Desai Architects and Centre for Environment Education (CEE), both from Pune, prepared the draft Pune Cycle Plan, known as the Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan for Pune presenting a mega project for integrated, city-wide cycle tracks across Pune.

With a preliminary estimate of Rs.300 crore (which could easily go up to Rs.500 crore), the PMC has proposed a Cycle Network Plan of approximately 470-km. of Segregated Cycle Tracks. Painted Cycle Lanes and Green ways combined, of which about 73-km are existing Cycle Tracks, which should be retrofitted and brought into the Cycle Network.

Srinivas Bonala (Additional City Engineer and In charge of the project) told Hindustan Times that the central government has given the funding for preparing the Pune Cycle Plan. The PMC appointed the consultant and involved citizens for making cycle plan.

The draft plan has been published on the PMC website https://punecycleplan.wordpress.com and citizens have been invited to give their suggestions till September 30.

Major policy changes have been suggested in the Comprehensive Bicycle Plan for Pune city and it would need political and administrative will for good implementation.

One of the major recommendations in the cycle plan is to scrap the one way routes which don’t support cyclists. Many countries have withdrawn one way routes, according to experts.

Other recommendations are to make the central part of the city motor-free and discourage construction of flyovers. Flyovers are seen as expensive, short term measures which don’t solve the problem of traffic congestion.

The draft cycle plan gives details of cycle track designs, its connectivity and maintenance.

The plan has proposed to construct cycle tracks of Asphalt, followed by concrete as the most preferred surface material for cyclists. It has been proposed that different colours can be used for cycle tracks and cycle lanes.Following the example of Netherlands, Belgium and some other countries, cycle tracks painted in red have been proposed for Pune.

Project challenges

Over the last decade, the PMC constructed 300 km of cycle tracks in the city but failed miserably to make them user-friendly. These cycle tracks have suffered from encroachments of various kinds. An estimated Rs. 100 crore has been wasted in constructing cycle tracks and modifying roads on various occasions.

The Pune Cycle Plan will also face a major challenge from the 24x7 water project in the city for which almost all the major roads are going to be dug up in the coming months and years. Implementing the cycle track project would mean good coordination with the water department so that the same roads are not dug again.