From the Viewsroom

Cycle for clean air

Tina Edwin | Updated on January 09, 2018

If cycling to work is the norm in Europe, why not in India?

Existing cities as well as those planned for the future need to think beyond buses, metro trains and car pools to curb the rapid increase in vehicular emission, and yet provide people affordable alternatives to get around. They need to plan for and induct more ecologically sustainable solutions for personal mobility. That solution necessarily needs to include a greater use of bicycles — especially for short distance commutes and for running errands.

Roads in most cities are currently chaotic and unsafe for cyclists. The high pollution levels discourage many who may otherwise like to cycle. Urban folk often cite extreme weather as another reason to avoid cycling. Yet weather need not be an excuse. In parts of Europe where it is cold, windy and damp for the better part of the year, cycling is a popular way to get around. In prosperous cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, senior corporate executives too cycle to work. In India, however, prosperity and the aspiration to own a motorised vehicle led to the decline of cycling.

The declining quality of air in most cities offers the perfect platform for cycling to once again become a way of life in India. Not just for factory workers and service providers such as plumbers, painters, and delivery boys but also for the more prosperous city dwellers, students and home-makers.

Of course, promoting the use of cycles calls for major behavioural changes. That can be accelerated with good and well maintained cycling lanes across cities. In older cities, altering existing roads may not be easy, but elevated cycle lanes can be built, where possible, on a priority basis, instead of more flyovers. Also, efforts are needed to make cycling cool.

Senior Deputy Editor

Published on November 23, 2017

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