If you are staying in Kolkata, you can no longer run a cycle in a city street. The Kolkata Traffic Police has banned cycles on all 174 major and minor streets in the city. Cycling is known for being most efficient and cheap form of transportation around the world. Most of the developed countries have their own bicycle policies benefiting people using the mode, but in Kolkata the administration think differently.
In the month of August, England allocated £77 million to make the cycling system better in the cities like Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich. This is the biggest ever single injection of funding to be used to make road safer for bicycle owners and making the system a better experience.
When it comes about making the city better place for cycle users, none of the European countries are far behind. Countries like Denmark, Sweden, Hungry and many more have their own cycling tracks and laws to protect cyclists to encourage usage of this light vehicle across the cities. Even in modern India too, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad are giving importance to cycling. There is planning for dedicated cycle lanes in all these cities along with the main roads. Not only this, such projects are under pipeline in two-tier cities like Rajkot, Mysore, Gurgaon and Bhopal.
We have been listening from long that the West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government is trying to beautify the City of Joy on the line of London. Kolkata Eye is under making at the bank of Hoogly River, but when it comes about cycling, the state government lends a deaf ear.
I remember, even two years back, (when the Kolkata Traffic Police hadn’t made a law to prevent cycles in the city roads) there were complaints from the cyclists that they were being continuously harassed by the police. Finally the gazette notification was nailed on May 29 this year. The government says that banning cycles was the only way to fight Kolkata’s traffic congestion problems.
Violation of NUTP
Kolkata Traffic Police’s diktat is a clear violation of the National Urban Transport Policy of 2006 that encourages cycling across Indian streets. At the same time, it’s a true fact that millions of poor and working class Kolkatans use a cycle everyday. This ban is all set force many people out of work who depend on this form of transportation. Coming forward against the ban, the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) has asked West Bengal government to revoke the ban as soon as possible.
To make Kolkata a better city, the government should focus on providing cycle tracks, public cycle sharing schemes and safety to pedestrians above all.
Mamata Banerjee government should understand that cycles can be used to cover short to moderate distances and it is one of the most effective transportation modes. It’s not only good for health, but it reduces consumption of fossil fuels. It helps us reduce air and noise pollution, easier in parking as well as no traffic congestion. One can run it without any financial cost.
I would urge the Mamata Banerjee government to get the bicycles back to the Kolkata roads removing all bureaucracy hurdles.
By Santosh Mishra
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