Bicycle lanes: Wishful thinking versus reality!!
While in college I remember watching a documentary on “Advantages of using Bicycles as a primary means of transportation and myself getting awed by it…J ” The documentary essentially showcased how usage of bicycles and bicycle lanes altered the transport ecosystem of the local town. Just like any progressive thinking youngster I indulged in wishful thinking and wondered if the same could be possible in my own country…better yet my city! What happened later makes an underscore of the phrase “Be careful what you wish for…because it just might come true”…read on.:)
Well I graduated in 2006 and after a few years of hard work got myself a small little car and I was really excited as owning a car in India means you have achieved something….:p. But along with this so called ‘achievement’ came riders which I had to accept and I was not complaining about it initially thought it meant apart from spending on fuel, I also has to contribute towards car insurance, car maintenance and of course taxes (road tax etc) which seem to always come up directly or covertly!!!
Coming back to my wishful thinking, now it so happens that the civic body in my city decided to make my and other naïve youngsters dream come true, yes my dream came true L… and I am not really excited about it. Today there are ‘bicycle lanes’ in the city roads, whether they are a boon or curse is highly debatable, my vote is for the latter adjective! Please read on to understand why…
Like underlined in my intro paragraph, the introduction of bicycling lanes thoroughly changed the transport ecosystem of the city. And the same happened in my city, and the burden was felt worse by car owners like ‘me’ who are paying through our noses not just to commute in peace but also for the upkeep of bicycle lanes, implementation of which have only made our city roads more clogged!! And all this goes on while happy go lucky cyclists are not charged a dime….this is indeed the highway robbery of the modern era!!!
The boisterous vocal minority who seemed to have pushed all the right buttons to get the bicycles lanes in place in Delhi, Pune and Bangalore should have first got their ground work done and checked whether the implementation of these lanes would create a win-win situation for all who ply rather than they being a status symbol to wave the ‘green peace’ flag.
Please note I am all for the green revolution in the transport sector but the transition to a cleaner and safer method of transport system should be achieved in a planned manner to be highly effective.
Just emulating or rather copy-pasting of what is achieved in developed countries need not have the same effect as the dynamics of operations and local level implementation are very different. From the humble but assertive view point of a tax payer and vehicle owner, I believe it would have been a far more prudent measure if bicycle lanes were created separate from the main roads and their upkeep and maintenance were billed to the cyclists. This viewpoint would be far more effective rather than having a lane just market out from the main road, which also poses safety issues as there is only a colored line that indicates the difference between bicycle lanes and road lanes.
We all love our city and making it eco-friendly and clean should be our long term vision and mission however all the stake holders concerned should be heard with the same yard stick. One need not need bicycle lanes to go ‘green’, small initiatives in this direction can be fruitful as well.
For example a simple initiative of implementing an eco-friendly, efficient means of garbage disposal would be a good place to start and if properly implemented after good study it would redefine the ‘garbage disposal cycle’ for the better.
Having said that now let’s all indulge in wishful thinking once again and hope that our wish of having a cleaner and greener city in our life time comes true and it can!!