By Roshan Toshniwal
Cycling in fast moving traffic can pose a safety hazard, both for the cyclists and other traffic commuters. At the same time, unpredictable weather, steep gradients and inadequate illumination also pose safety risks . The solar roof cycling track in Hyderabad, with two stretches measuring 23 km on the Outer Ring Road in the city is a first of its kind initiative and a novel attempt to address and mitigate these perennial risks. While the segregated covered track will ensure safety and encourage cycling, the 16MW solar roof capacity will provide adequate lighting to the track and respite cyclists from heat and rain.
Reportedly, officials from Hyderabad Growth Corridor Limited and Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority visited South Korea to experience the cycling track between Daejon and Sejong. An improvised version of this track became the Hyderabad solar roof track . The corridor was identified based on its proximity to the IT corridor, with an expectation to increase the mode share for cycle. The design of the 4.5m wide corridor is aesthetically pleasing and is protected by a green buffer from vehicular traffic. The track will be under CCTV surveillance for safety and is also expected to have parking, food stalls and public bicycle sharing facility.
The cycle tracks segregate the service road from the main carriageway and are unobstructed, building a momentum for cycling. Provisioning space for cycling on a busy bypass stretch will ensure safety for livelihood cyclists and if it succeeds in attracting more people to cycle, it could alter the design manuals for building bye pass and arterial roads in urban centres in India. This will also create an impetus for building cycling highways like Netherlands and Denmark and epitomise principles of mission LiFE in urban centres.
The eight lane Jaipur Delhi national highway experiences heavy and fast moving traffic. It divides the millennial city of Gurugram and though there are grade separators to assist vehicular crossing, the cyclists scamper for safety and often have to take refuge under flyovers to avoid vehicles. Absence of a safe passage for the pedestrian and cyclist not only jeopardises safety but also affects ease of moving for other vehicles on highways as they have to tread with caution. The Expressways and the link roads in Mumbai have similar challenges for the cyclists. While in Kolkata, the administration has simply restricted bicycles on several arterial roads. Looking at some of these facts, one could be forgiven for thinking the city administrations in the country almost don’t consider cyclists pedal worthy.
Slow and steady once used to win the race, but in a race to reach on time, the practice of cycling and with it, the concept of active mobility is fast depleting from our cities. While cities in Europe continue to embrace and encourage cycling as a mode to commute, cities in India are struggling to change gears despite increasing their carriageway. As a country, we need to ride in Hyderabad’s lane and prioritise building more cycle tracks while also creating a conducive environment for their adoption.
Cycling has an integral place in the modern image of the developed world, and its reduced adoption in our cities is a testimony that we are moving in the wrong direction.