A steadily growing number of cities around the world are eager to become bicycle friendly, as part of an overall strategy on sustainable development and the desire to become green cities. Biking in cities can be extremely efficient and healthy. Unfortunately, it can also be intimidating, stressful and dangerous.
When cities provide a safe and welcoming environment for cyclists and pedestrians, they can encourage more people to give up driving in favor of riding bikes. With a network of protected bike lanes and fewer cars on the road, there is less risk of accidents. Also, an increase in cycling and walking can lead to significant health benefits for a city. A reduced need for parking can free up valuable city space, and streets can certainly be much more pleasant with less honking.
As usual with this kind of thing, Copenhagen’s got a bike skyway- Cykelslangen, which lets cyclists ride over a waterfront area on an elevated bridge. London’s planning to complete the 18-mile East-West Cycle Superhighway traversing the city by summer this year. Paris’ plan to boost cycling includes five proposed highways that will be almost entirely protected from car traffic, on some of the city’s busiest roads.
Similar measures are needed in India. Despite decades of having a cycling culture, we've never had dedicated cycling lanes or infrastructure of any kind to support and encourage cyclists. Our cities were not designed with cyclists in mind, and it is a huge challenge to effectively accommodate everyone’s mode of choice, but giving more space to people who walk, cycle or use public transport is going to be the only way to move people around the city and ease the burden on the roads.
A lot of cycling groups have come up in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and most parts of the country. But very few people opt for cycling as a mode of transport to offices and work, as there is very less or absolutely no cycling infrastructure and space in the city. So far, there are only a few disjointed cycling tracks, and even these are encroached. The cycling corridors should be planned in a way that they connect to main roads and not end abruptly. They could be elevated or clubbed with the skywalks and beautified by landscaping so that it encourages more people to actually use them.
Bicycle -friendly cities are very much people-friendly, and city planning that considers pedestrians and cyclists will make a significant contribution to the city of the future.
Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and maybe in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.