The Central Government is drafting guidelines to scale up cycling infrastructure in the country, including interventions such as segregated lanes, shared streets, and intersections. The guidelines were shared with cities as the part of the Smart City Mission of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The design guidelines contain national standards and processes to create cycle-friendly streets, including interventions such as segregated lanes, shared streets, and intersections. It also contains details about parking management and additional design elements such as parking of cycles, signage, and street lighting, The next phase of the document will contain implementation details and methods to measure the impact of interventions.
The ministry had launched the Cycles4Change Challenge on June 25. The challenge is aimed to help cities connect with the public and experts to develop a unified vision to promote cycling. Cities are encouraged to collaborate with experts and volunteers, as they develop and implement their plans. Citizen collaboration will also be a key metric in the evaluation of proposals submitted by the cities. India Programme of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) is helping the government in drafting the guidelines.
Earlier, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi authorities had prepared a masterplan for cycling for the national capital around a decade ago. The masterplan was never implemented.
“Besides planning standards for cycling infrastructure, we need to recalibrate traffic lights in cities to factor in mass movement of cycles at traffic intersections. We can integrate landscape planning with cycle infrastructure,” said KT Ravindran, an urban designer and a former chairman of Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC).
“While the lockdown restrictions are is being gradually relaxed, the need for social distancing, especially in market places, will remain. The pandemic presents us with an opportunity to re-imagine streets for the public. To make market areas Covid-19 safe and people-friendly, the cities should consider the use of pavements in a big way. The need for personalised forms of transport is also expected to increase as a response to Covid-19. Cities around the world are leveraging the opportunity to expand their cycling network substantially,” the ministry had said in its letter to states.
According to a survey conducted in June by the India Programme of the ITDP to understand public’s travel choices post-Covid-19, results had showed that cycling would increase up to 65 per cent, as cities emerge out of lockdown restrictions.
According to the ministry, out of the 107 registered cities, 54 had formed an official core team to work on cycling infrastructure. These cities had carried out perception surveys to understand the public’s views about cycling. Among the respondents, 95 per cent and 95 per cent of women and men, respectively, had said they would use cycle if their cities had better infrastructure for this mode of transport.
“Cities are encouraged to contextualize these resources by using the test-learn-scale approach and present their learning as part of the workshops. The challenge has also emphasized key steps of the process, such as forming an official team, ensuring participation from women, and gathering feedback from the public at every step. Cities are also encouraged to initiate other interventions such as public bicycle sharing (PBS), rental programs, repair clinics, and parking projects. These should be well integrated and connected with transport stations, public spaces, institutions etc,” the official said.
“Stage 1 of the India Cycles4Change Challenge mandates that cities consider at least one corridor to test segregated cycle lanes and a neighbourhood to make it safe for the use of this mode of conveyance. A minimum of five kilometres (km) of continuous corridor and a neighbourhood area up to five square (sq) km qualifies as a pilot intervention. By December 14, cities need to test the pilot along with their community and document the impact of interventions,” said the official.
Around 370 km of streets and 210 sq km have been identified for pilot corridor and neighbourhood area, respectively. At least 35 cities have initiated work to this effect. Work is in progress in creating and testing the design solutions, he said.