Participants urge city to promote non-motorized transport as a way to combat traffic congestion and air pollution
Once known as the “Cycle City”, Pune, India, has in recent years been overwhelmed by motorized vehicles and the traffic congestion and air pollution they have caused. Looking to draw attention to these troubling trends, this week a group of more than 200 cyclists rallied in the city's streets - calling for better sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and chanting slogans such as “Cycle chalva indhan wachwa” (“Ride your bicycle, save fuel”). Participants hope that the event will help raise awareness of the role that non-motorized transport can play in combating Pune’s increasingly serious traffic-related problems.
The rally, timed to coincide with World Car Free Day, provided a platform for Pune citizens from all walks of life to urge the city to provide improved sidewalks, bicycle paths, and green spaces, rather than focusing on infrastructure designed solely for automobiles. Indeed, despite the fact that biking or walking are the primary means of transport for most Pune residents, the city lacks sufficient infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.
The rally was organized by a variety of civic groups, including Parisar, Janwani, Pune Cycle Pratishthan and Rotaract Club. EMBARQ experts Dr. Dario Hidalgo (interview above) and Madhav Pai attended the rally, where they were joined by the city’s Municipal Commissioner and its Deputy Commissioner of Traffic Police.
Fortunately, it seems a number of other policymakers are also beginning to see the benefits of more biking and walking in Pune; the current city administration has made bicycle an integral part of their planning efforts, and all city administrators, including the commissioner, cycle to work every Tuesday. For a city once known for its bicycles, however, Pune still has a long way to go.