What it means to cycle in India, US and Netherlands
Last month, Olympian Wrestler Sushil Kumar Flagged Off Road Safety Cyclothon in Delhi in the company of Ajay Jadeja , Vijay Chhibber, Secretary Road Transport and Highways and Bhim Sain Bassi, Commissioner of Police, Delhi. Senior officers of the Ministry and Delhi Police also participated in the 5 km cyclothon was organised by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in collaboration of Delhi Police and International Road Federation.
Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has been highlighting road safety issues by involving more and more people. With an intent to make roads safer, low level of focus accorded to safety of those using bicycles in India has been recognised as an aspect that needs looking into. Each year in India, cycles alone account for around 8000 fatalities.
Reflectors and reflective tape on bicycles enhance visibility and safety, and this was highlighted through the 5 km Cyclothon initiative. Growing number of road accidents in India accounts for over 1.38 lakh fatalities and a substantially larger number of injured and disabled. this results in socio-economic and personal trauma apart from causing almost 2% GDP loss every year.
On the cycling front overseas, many US cities are reporting increase of bicycle commuters as per an U.S. Census Bureau report. Overall, Nationwide, those travelling to work by bike has increased by about 60% in the past decade, from about 488,000 in 2000 to 786,000 during the 2008-2012 period, equating to the largest increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey.
“In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking,” said Brian McKenzie, a Census Bureau sociologist and the report’s author. “For example, many cities have invested in bike share programs, bike lanes and more pedestrian-friendly streets.”
Bicyclists in US account for only 0.6% of all commuters. However, some of US’ largest cities have seen cycling activity double since 2000. Portland, Oregon had the highest bicycle-commuting rate at 6.1%. An increase of 1.8% in 2000. In Minneapolis, cycling has increased from 1.9% to 4.1%.
Interestingly, after steadily decreasing since 1980, those walking to work has stabilized since 2000. In 1980, 5.6% US workers walked to work but this number declined to 2.9% by 2000. Through 2008-2012 period, walkers’ numbers were pretty much the same as in 2000. Boston had the highest rate of walking to work at 15.1%. “Modes Less Traveled — Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012,” report highlights socio-economic and geographic differences between motorized and non-motorized commutes.
Traffic in any region also has after effects. For example: Air-quality problems in Los Angeles are attributed to automobiles that result in high levels of traffic and air pollution, while reporting worst smog in the nation.
Amsterdam has always been praised for its high use of cycles. This can be attributed to Dutch policies that support bike-friendly transportation policies. Detailed bicycle paths allow riders to bypass traffic signals and get around at ease. safety is paramount, so residential neighborhoods have speed limits and signals must always be obeyed. Bike parking lots can be found everywhere you go, while city centres offer restricted parking and some areas won’t even allow your car in, ensuring you can either walk or cycle only. Zebra crossings are followed and pedestrians try not to get on cycle paths.
Since 2011, the Dutch government, regions and business community are working on improving accessibility in the Netherlands with better use of roads, waterways and railways. About 300 smart and innovative approaches in 12 busy regions have reduced peak-hour traffic jams at major junctions with an intent to reduce jams by 20%. The rad to change is dominated by cycle highways, high-quality public transport, mobility budgets, cycling incentive projects, and transport by water rather than by road.