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Monday Musings: More cycles means more safety on roads

The connection between better road safety and the Pune Bicycle Plan is direct and straightforward.

pune Updated: Jan 21, 2018 21:46 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
monday musings,cycles,safety
Bicycle Plan envisages that the city would eventually have 4.75 lakh cycles on the roads in the next three years.(HT File Photo)

India is notorious for road accidents with the highest fatalities in the world. Day in and day out we read about tragic accidents on the city roads and the citizens face a high risk due to rash driving by the common man. As if this were not enough, once an accident happens, the injured- more often than not- left to bleed on the roads. The latest case being the one in Meerut where two 15-year-old accident victims bled to death on the roadside because the UP police did not want their Toyota Innova soiled with blood.

What is the connection between better road safety and bicycles? It is simple and straightforward: If more and more people cycle on our city roads, other motorists- whether in cars, scooters, mobikes, buses or autos- would be forced to take note and drive carefully.

Greater the number of cyclists on our roads, greater would be the public pressure and moral pressure on the civic administration and the police force to ensure safety for cyclists.

Cycling is not only healthy and eco-friendly but can also contribute significantly to road safety. Therefore, we need more cyclists on the roads and we need to demand better road safety infrastructure and policing from our public servants such as Kunal Kumar (Pune municipal commissioner), Shrinivas Bonala (Chief Engineer, Project) and Rashmi Shukla (Pune police commissioner); our civic corporators, MLAs and MPs.

There ought to be consensus and unanimity amongst our politicians and citizens that Pune needs a robust bicycle plan. There could be differences over the details, but these can be addressed point-by-point and modified with the intention that the Cycle Plan becomes better than before.

Last Thursday, the Pune Bicycle Plan faced rough weather in the general body of the PMC with senior opposition corporators expressing reservations on a number of counts.NCP’s Chetan Tupe (Leader of Opposition), Congressman Arvind Shinde and Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Bhosale were among those who raised a number of doubts about the plan.

They questioned the “haste” with which the plan was being implemented. They objected to the fact that the PMC had committed Rs.350 crore to the project but did not have a revenue generation model for itself. They expressed concern over the possible encroachment of cycle tracks- as happened before- and the PMC’s plan to deal with it.

Offering clarifications, Kumar said that the Bicycle Plan has social good as its central objective and it envisages that Pune would eventually have 4.75 lakh cycles on the roads in the next 3 years. The length of cycle tracks would go up from the existing 92-km to 880-km. More cycles on Pune’s road would help reduce congestion and pollution. One of the highlights of this project is an 18-km long cycle track and walkway along the canal from Sinhagad Road to Phursungi.

The opposition leaders said that while they were not opposed to the plan, they were angry that citizen-activists were running a “trolling campaign” against specific leaders such as NCP’s Vandana Chavan, MP; and Tupe, Congress’s Aba Bagul and Avinash Bagwe , accusing them of being opposed to the plan.

This is not a healthy way to proceed on the bicycle plan and all stakeholders need to call truce and allow the plan to be implemented. It would be better for the citizens of Pune if the prominent and influential leaders declare their support to the plan and make constructive suggestions, rather than drive it into the ground.

abhay.vaidya@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Jan 21, 2018 21:43 IST