In an attempt to get Pune to turn more environment conscious, several plans were announced including the ambitious Pune Cycle Plan (public bicycle sharing plan) that was launched in December 2017 to boost sustainable mobility.
Much like the ambitious BRT, the cycle plan also seems to be falling short on deliverables with poor implementation on ground.
Ranjit Gadgil, Programme Director, Parisar NGO, fears that the current situation will continue to remain stagnant.
The cycle plan was made to implement cycling infrastructure in the city but, in reality, little progress has been made on the plan. Most of the staff assigned to the bicycle department already have additional charges and they aren’t doing much for the bicycle department.
A lot of effort went into making the plan and getting the plan approved and now the administration is not working efficiently to ensure the implementation of the plan.
Secondly, on all the main roads of Pune, some sort of project like BRT or Metro is planned, therefore it becomes difficult to execute the infrastructure for the cycling lanes.
Also, they are planning to dig-up roads for their 24×7 water supply project which essentially happens on the edge of the roads. Hence, the authorities said that they cannot lay cycle tracks anywhere there because they all will get dug-up in a year or so.
This has been a major problem, but neither the bicycle department have shown any ability to solve these problems and the commissioner himself has not been active in ensuring that the plan is executed.
I personally feel the new municipal commissioner has not understood how important the plan is and how it will help to solve the traffic and environment issues.
Moreover, with the rise in petrol prices, a lot of people would have preferred cycling, if we had a good infrastructure. But the authorities and political leaders are stressing upon building flyovers and believe cycling as a third-rate transport mode.
Unless the top leaders understand that cycling is an important part of the transport system, I fear the current situation will not improve.
Speaking about the feeder cycle system that was a part of the metro project, he says, “I do not think the metro authorities have taken it seriously. All they might do is provide some space for cycle stands which is of no use, because unless there is a safe cycling facility for people to cycle a kilometre or two to the metro stations, there is no point.
The access area around the metro station has to be planned in such a way that it is pedestrian and cycle friendly.
It is only then when people will use non-motorized modes to access the metro. It is a sad situation as it would have represented a good opportunity for good cycling infrastructure to develop at least in the metro corridor,” adds Gadgil.
Pune Cycle Plan was launched at Pune University (SPPU) and Aundh as a part of the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) initiative.
As on date, the PMC Road Department have almost completed the work on three cycle tracks; Satara Road, JM Road, University Road respectively.
Pranjali Deshpande, Programme Manager, Institute of Transport and Development Policy (ITDP) feels, “There is a lot of improvement in public bicycle sharing but of course that was supposed to be done by the private operators and PMC was only the facilitators.
In terms of providing infrastructure and enforcement of cycle tracks, there is still a lot of scope for PMC to speed up their work.
The construction of new cycle tracks is one part of it. Along with this, retrofitting of the existing tracks, changing the materials, making it ready for a smoother cycle experience, and removing encroachment should be taken up on top priority.
Public bicycle sharing is already seeing increased demand in the city and providing newer facilities to existing cycle users will help promote the plan effectively. This can go hand in hand while new infrastructure is being developed.
Although PMC is trying to build cycle tracks under the Pune street program, there is always resistance from either locals or others when it comes to implementation.
Hence, outreach and awareness is also important here for them to understand that is being done for their own benefit. It is good the authorities are taking the initiative, yet they need to really get to work now to implement it well,” adds Deshpande.
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