Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), a citizens’ group, in collaboration with Karnataka government’s Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), released a report on their ‘Livelihood Cyclists Survey’, on September 30. The report highlighted the needs and requirements of the cyclist while he/she is riding the cycle across the city, to understand their concerns regarding traffic on the roads, parking facility and other infrastructure.
Cycling is one of the most sustainable modes of transport with zero dependence on fossil fuels, zero emissions, making it an affordable transport option. Bicycles have always had an important role in the informal sector, especially in supporting livelihood and mobility among the urban poor such as those working for security agencies, household service providers, delivery companies, vendors, factory workers, sweepers, newspaper distributors, and others. Bicycles can play a significant supportive role in providing better and equitable access to jobs and economic activity, increasing school enrollments, gender empowerment, and enabling faster access to health facilities.
But there is a huge technology gap across all product segments, making cycles manufactured in India uncompetitive in terms of price, safety and quality. Also, there’s a perception that cycling is unsafe and a poor man’s mode of transport, which is also a reason why it is not a preferred transport mode as incomes rise. Bengaluru is no exception to this trend.
The survey had 604 respondents who were chosen at random from each of the eight zones across Bengaluru. The survey was conducted with the help of a questionnaire, which was designed by B.PAC in collaboration with DULT. The questionnaire was meant to collect basic information on the livelihood of cyclists, their travel patterns, challenges, and encouraging factors for cycling.
The respondents for the survey were from low-income groups, and were broadly categorized into two segments :
- Livelihood cyclist
- Non-bicycle user (likely to use for livelihood)
Below are key highlights from the survey.
1. Concentration of livelihood cyclists:
Livelihood cyclist respondents were majorly found in Bommanahalli, Bengaluru South, Bengaluru West and Mahadevapura zones.
2. Using cycle as primary mode of transport:
Over 96% respondents used bicycles as a primary mode of transport. 73% used bicycles for the entire commute; only 27% used it for last-mile connectivity.
3. Monthly income v/s the total cost per month for all modes of transport:
Among respondents with monthly income less than Rs 5,000, 92% spent up to Rs 500 per month for all modes of transport combined. Among those earning Rs 5,000-10,000 monthly, 75% spent up to Rs 500. Whereas, among those earning more than Rs 10,000, only 65% spent less than Rs 500.
4. Ownership of cycle:
Nearly 94% of respondents owned cycles while 6% hired it on a rental basis for commuting to their workplaces.
5. Frequency of cycle usage for transportation:
96% of the respondents used their cycles daily to commute. The frequency of cycle usage for daily commuting was highest among unskilled workers at 100%, and lowest among skilled workers at 93%.
6. Reasons for using cycle for transportation:
84% of the respondents cited “saving money” as one of the main reasons for using cycles while less than 26% cycled to work for health benefits.
7. Distance of residence from primary job location:
Around 72% respondents had to travel less than 4 km by cycle from their residence to their primary job location.
8. Distance covered for Sales and Marketing/ Delivery (SMD) jobs:
95% of the respondents with SMD jobs travelled within 8 km everyday (0 to 4 kms -73% and 4 to 8 km – 22%), while around 5% had to travel more than 8 km by cycle.
9. Challenges faced while cycling:
62.13% of the respondents cited absence of proper infrastructure and dedicated cycling lanes as the major concern, while 13% were upset about the unruly behaviour of other drivers. Other worries included probability of theft of their cycles (19%) and bad weather (32%).
10. Unsafe locations for livelihood cyclists:
The most unsafe locations cited by livelihood cyclist respondents are Hoodi circle, ITPL Main Road, Kundalahalli Junction, Bellandur signal and Sarjapur Main Road, which are congested and witness dense traffic.
11. Willingness to use cycle for transportation
A whopping majority of the respondents (97%) were willing to use cycles as their primary mode of transport every day if cycling was made safe and convenient.
12. Encouraging factors for using cycle
Better streetlights, dedicated cycle lanes and parking emerged as the top three factors that would encourage them to use cycling as their primary mode of transport.
79.28% of the respondents cited better streetlights as extremely important/very important. 45% felt dedicated cycle lanes were extremely important/very important. 25.06% felt the need for exclusive cycle parking spaces in markets and offices.
Read more: Guess why women avoid cycling in our city
Non-Bicycle user (likely to use for livelihood)
- Modes of transport used for daily commute:
70% of the non-bicycle users relied on BMTC buses for their daily commute whereas only 1% relied on the Metro rail.
2. Reasons for not cycling:
There were slight differences in the concerns expressed by women regarding cycling as compared to men. When women non-cyclists were asked the reason for not cycling, about 71% said they felt unsafe while cycling in traffic with motorists. Whereas in the case of men, 73% cited lack of infrastructure as the reason for not cycling.
3. Encouraging factors to shift towards using cycle:
Non-cyclist respondents had similar reasons as cyclists on the encouraging factors – better street lighting and parking.
- 70% said better street lighting was extremely important/ very important
- 48% cited designated cycle lanes as extremely important/ very important
- 26% felt exclusive cycle parking spaces in markets and offices were extremely important/very important
Key recommendations of the report
- Budgetary allocation for making streets safer for cycling
- Better street lighting, safer junction crossing, better enforcement of lane discipline, and designated parking areas for bicycles are encouraging factors to shift from motorised transport to cycling.
- Budgetary allocation for communication that educates citizens on health and environment benefits of cycling
- Changing the narrative from cycling perceived as a “poor person’s commute mode” to an “aspirational mode of commute”
- Special schemes to encourage women to cycle
- Special schemes for affordable ownership of bicycle
The report release was followed by a panel discussion where the panelists brainstormed on solutions based on insights from the report.
Click here to access the full survey report.
[This article is based on a press release from B.PAC, and has been published with edits.]