It is not easy to realise this – but this little fun thing called cycling can reduce congestion on city roads by as much as 15-20%. This reduction is possible without any large scale infrastructure investments. All we need is a little behaviour change all around the city.
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The reduction in congestion can come in these three significant ways:
- Increased reach of public transportation through First and Last Mile adoption
- Increasing usage of cycling for short distance commutes
- Cycling for local shopping and errand runs
First and Last Mile adoption
Improving adoption of cycling will have huge benefits for public transportation companies. If most bus stops have usable cycle stands, cycles could extend the reach of Bus stops easily by 1-2 Km. If large office complexes provide cycle rentals inside their campus, cycle/bus combo could invite a lot of commuters. There is also the option of allowing cycles to be carried on the bus, but for this, we first have to figure a well-designed attachment that can enable every bus to take 5-6 cycles.
It is encouraging to have BMRC too as a partner for the cycle day campaign. BMRCL is already working on providing cycle rental facilities at its stations. Encouraging a culture to cycle up to the stations would help extend its reach. Cycle up the first mile of your commute, then take the Metro, and then, use a rented cycle, or a bus for the last mile to get to your final destination.
Prefer cycling for short commutes
Once we build some buzz around cycling, to spread its appeal beyond the die-hard cyclists, we will design an “office cycle day” like event to encourage those who live within 5-6 km of their offices to use cycles. We will also do a school/college focus edition to encourage students to cycle to school, especially in places Jayanagar that have cycle lanes available.
Think of an office area like Domlur/Embassy golf links that has residential zones like Koramangala, Indiranagar close by. Think of a simple appeal like “On 30th of every month, commute to your office on a cycle”. Further, what if we work with traffic police to setup a temporary cycle lanes near the office campuses, say on the kerb of Inner Ring Road / 100ft road, only during commute hours to help increase the perception of safety? In parallel, we also work with the office campuses of the area to ensure cycle stands are in place, and they do their bit to encourage employees to try this once a month. Would such an event get young professionals to try cycling for short commutes? We will have the answer in a few months from now!
Use Cycling for short shopping runs
Have you ever wondered why the traffic tends to be at its worst on Saturdays? When you are out next Saturday, notice the number of cars parked near small shops or even malls. Cars are out in large numbers on Saturdays, and based on our preliminary research, they are out mostly for the short shopping runs. Since we don’t have adequate parking space for them (we are never to going to have the space anyway, never), owners park them on the curb side causing mini-jams. Hundreds of such mini jams cause the Saturday chaos we see so often these days in many suburbs of the city.
Why not encourage cycling for these short errand runs? Why not encourage shopping areas to provide and maintain cycle stands? Why should malls not have preferential location, right near the entry, for cycle stands? Many of us who get started into cycling have started using it for local runs, and find it a big time saver and fun. You don’t need dedicated cycle stands etc for such local runs. Our preliminary research indicates that motorists are careful when they see cyclists around, and more and more cyclists start becoming visible, this care is only going to increase.
But, one step at a time
But, getting there is a step by step process. First, we have to get more and more people to rediscover cycling. Seeing more on the road, and realizing that it is not as scary as it looks will help. That is why the first event is a Sunday early morning ride (last Sunday of every month, starting October 27) to make it easy for more people to get started. Option of carrying cycle inside the Bus will give us a taste of cycle/bus combination as well and we are thankful to BMTC for agreeing to allow this, even if only as an experiment. We hope that the Sunday morning rides will get more and more to “rediscover” cycling, get many to buy cycles if they don’t have one, and get them to feel comfortable on our City roads.
Oct 27, 7 am, Cubbon Park, be there!
So let’s all make a beginning on October 27. Be there at 7 am, at Cubbon Park. Ride all the way, or if you stay too far, hop in to any BMTC Volvo bus going towards Hudson Circle along with your cycle (yes! a historic first of its kind experiment in any city in India) to arrive at Cubbon Park. Once here, join the chief guest for a ceremonial kick off ride (7.30 am), mingle with other cyclists, join a guided heritage ride through select historical spots around the park (starts at 8 am), or show up at the IdeaBox to supply your ideas towards improving and encouraging cycling in the city. Needless to add, you have the option of soaking in the fresh air and the greens as well.