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Half of India owns a bicycle, but pedalling away on roads is risky

Half of India owns a bicycle, but pedalling away on roads is risky

Taking bicycles out on city roads is risky business as stubborn urban challenges keep cycle lanes either non-existent or unused. New-age bike-sharing apps trying to…

Thursday, Jun 09

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Taking bicycles out on city roads is risky business as stubborn urban challenges keep cycle lanes either non-existent or unused. New-age bike-sharing apps trying to fill the space are finding it hard to scale up without demand while pollution watchers groan in dismay.

Road safety is among the top reasons why Indians are wary of adopting the practice, more than discomforting weather, long distances or pollution, found a 2014 survey by The Energy and Resources Institute. In 2020, road deaths involving bicycles rose 2.5% to a seven-year high, even though total accident deaths dropped to an 11-year low. The share of bicycle deaths in all accidents, although low, has been rising, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. In large cities, the share is higher despite lower bicycle ownership.

While ownership of bicycles has stayed stagnant in the last 15 years, their use for travel has dropped as cars and motorcycles have become ubiquitous. As per the National Transport Development Policy Committee, 2013, the ideal modal share of bicycles in million-plus cities should be 10-12%. However, a number of our cities fail to meet this standard. In Delhi, it stands below 5%, after falling more than 30 percentage points since the 1950s.

Infra challenge

Bicycles need fairly low-cost infrastructure, and small investments can go a long way. Safe cycling facilities can be integrated in road projects with just about 10% extra money, say transport experts. The Chandigarh administration found in a survey that basic elements such as lack of lighting, open […]

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