Wednesday, August 19

Bicycle ! Bicycle !

America is currently trying to figure out whether it can encourage car users to switch to bikes. And one of the bottlenecks apparently is that there are not enough places to park bikes. What used to be a problem for cars earlier is now a problem with bikes. In some cities, bike usage has increased by almost 150 percent but people have nowhere to park.

However several cities like Portland(US) and Amsterdam have focused on creating exclusive parking spaces for cyclists. One automated location in Tokyo has a capacity for 9000 bikes any one of which can be retrieved with 23 seconds !

Of course any city would benefit if people switch to cycles. Cycles take lesser space on roads and parking areas . So how is Delhi matching up with other cities of the world?

One can see a lot of cyclists in Delhi and many of them tend to park their cycles inside their office compounds. These are not new spaces but mostly extensions of older parking areas which are now overflowing. As a result many people now tend to or in front of the offices/shops they are working in.

But a bigger problem is that unlike most countries in Europe there are no dedicated lanes for cyclists and often they are treated on par with pedestrians. The only time you can see cycles dominating the road is during the rush hour at ITO. When the light changes to green they rush out like they are in some race. Otherwise, car and bus drivers tend to push them out even on the slow lanes. On roads where there is faster traffic flow there is no way a cyclist can enjoy a ride.

Partly this is because we often see cycles as something associated with adolescence. Its only those who cannot afford public transport and/or have to carry their tools with them use cycles as adults. Shifting to cycles only makes sense if roads are safer and you are closer to work. In fact today in Delhi car owners complain about driving long distances and may look for houses closer to work. But cyclists often do not have that choice.

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