Interesting developments in the huge Indian city of Kolkata – while the rest of the world is adding more and more bike share programs, as listed in my previous article, and as you will soon find in database on this blog, this Indian city is going the opposite (wrong) way. Kolkata officials have decided to ban bicycles on majority of the city roads.
Admittedly if you have been in any of the Indian cities, you would wonder – how do the bicycles get around and stay unharmed anyway….! Being on the road in many of those cities is VERY dangerous to your health. I remember being in Bangalore a couple of times in the last two years or so and in both cases I was strongly advised not to cross most of the city streets on foot. Why? Because that is a significant hazzard..!
Here is a view from ndtv.com
Angry protests are going on as a result of the ban. Some local activists are also expressing their dismay at the decision. Here is a snapshot from one of the India media sites:
Social activist Medha Patkar has appealed to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to revoke the blanket ban on cycling in Kolkata, saying this will work against poor and working class people who are dependent on this "inexpensive" mode of transport to earn a living.
Net-net, this is a strange move and one that will not improve anything. The space and dangers inflicted by bicycles are not anything major and will be well surpassed by the chaos that motorbikes bring (and the everpresent Bajaj cabs) — so don't expect Kolkata to be somehow in more ruly traffic….won't happen.
So, once again, I think India will benefit big time from getting more bicycles NOT LESS, on its roads in order to maintain green environment as much as possible as well as allow for more sustainable development.