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Cycle groups raise demands before polls

Kolkata, March 26 : Several cycle groups across the state came together and submitted a “Charter of Demands to promote Cycling” to all polit...

Kolkata, March 26 : Several cycle groups across the state came together and submitted a “Charter of Demands to promote Cycling” to all political parties contesting for the 2021 Bengal elections to include in their assembly meeting and implementation plan the need for sustainable cycling and cycle safe infrastructure for the State. The demands include removal of cycle restrictions from Kolkata and immediately implement a cycle safe infrastructural plan for the state including Kolkata - for promoting a cost-efficient, safe and an eco-friendly urban commute in the city. In the press conference organized today by a network of all cycle groups across the state at Press Club Kolkata.

Satanjib Gupta , “Bicycle Mayor of Kolkata”, BYCS said - “The cycling ban in Kolkata is affecting our domestic workers, milkmen, newspaper delivery men, factory employees, delivery boys and other workers, who do not have the luxury of working from home or taking expensive transport every day to work resort to cycling or walking as the sole means of commute”

The presentation made at the press meet pointed out that the National Transport Policy of the State recognises bicycle as the most widely used means of transportation in the State. In fact, many people from peri-urban and neighbouring rural areas like newspaper vendors, milkmen etc. make a living daily by travelling by bicycles. Many use bicycle as the means to commute to maintain socially distanced traveling in a COVID-19 affected world. Data from several available sources suggest that the bicycle market has boomed in India. Kolkata has a well-developed public transit system which makes it even more relevant for the city to adopt largescale cycling.

The cycle groups - KCS, KCAAJRC, 2 Wheels, Cycos, Cyclops, CNG, Argo and many others who were present at the event said  “That everyone can access cycling as an affordable means of commuting and help Kolkata become a cycling-friendly city by safeguarding the rights and interests of pedestrians and cyclists. Several studies have revealed that Kolkata, like any other metropolitan city in India, the growth in motorization in the city has turned the tide against a sustainable urban mobility model and maintaining the air quality of the city. “

Vinay Jaju, convenor of Bengal-CAN said that “Leaders, the police etc say that the narrow streets of Kolkata are a reason to ban cycles. In fact small road spaces makes the cycle even more relevant. We have to think beyond cars or our cities will be unlivable with the congestion and pollution. Cycles not cars have be at the centre of our urban mobility plan and instead of car parking space and more roads being widened for cars, cycle lanes need to be given priority.”

Across the world cycling is considered as a sustainable mode of transportation helpful in reducing carbon emissions. Switching from car to bicycle saves 150 g of CO2 per kilometer. Each 7 km by bicycle will save an emission of 1 kilogram of CO2 as compared to the same distance covered by car.

Raghu Jana, convenor of Kolkata Cycle Samaj said: “After COVID the economy of the State needs a boost. Ordinary people's income has decreased. Bicycles are the sole transport option for low-income communities who travel daily for work. We are urging the government to take initiative for safe and uninterrupted cycling in Kolkata, encourage cycling and stop fines for cycling.”

The demands include :

1. Implementation of safe bicycle lanes and Infrastructures

2. Promote cycling as a sport with appropriate infrastructures

3. Remove all cycling restrictions and ‘No Cycling’ Boards across Kolkata

4. Stop fining cyclist except if the break traffic rules

5. Set up stands for parking bicycles at railways, metro stations, etc

6. Declare one day per month as “Car Free Day”

7. Implementation of comprehensive mobility plan with KMDA on cycles, NMT and Public Transport

Political parties contesting for this year’s election have already promised several opportunities for the state’s economically challenged communities. Inclusion of bicycles in the current transport system will not just better livelihood access for marginal communities but will also encourage low emissions commutes and support livelihoods of lacs of people.


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