Spearheading a marketing campaign for sustainable mobility for years, Bengaluru’s first Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran finds purpose to cheer as cycle gross sales surge and new biking tracks emerge within the metropolis. Excerpts from an interplay.
What position does a Bicycle Mayor play in a metropolis like Bengaluru?
The submit permits biking to have a voice. It helps in articulating the utility of biking, getting extra folks on board and in pushing the federal government and companies to grasp and help the trigger.
What explains the current surge in cycle gross sales within the metropolis?
There are a number of causes. Because of the lockdown, ranges of exercise got here down. There’s solely a lot you are able to do indoors. Gyms had been closed. So, to get some recent air, free their minds, folks began strolling and biking. Apart from, we’ve got been drumming up local weather change for fairly some time now and this was a window of alternative for folks to reset their lives.
Statistics have proven that commute and leisure biking journeys are nearly neck-to-neck. For the reason that lockdown, the commute journeys have come down and the leisure journeys have elevated exponentially. Biking gross sales have elevated by nearly 200 to 250%.
Is biking a viable possibility in a metropolis infamous for its unsafe, closely congested roads and site visitors indiscipline?
You’ve gotten a security downside for cyclists when the site visitors goes very quick, not when it’s gradual. In a site visitors jam, a bike owner can go quicker than all of the automobiles. It’s a notion that while you see too many automobiles parked round, you’re feeling it’s unsafe. However it’s truly safer.
However, there’s a diploma of unsafety hooked up to this car as a result of it seems to be weak. On large roads the place automobiles go quicker, just like the Outer Ring Street (ORR) or Ballari Street, there may be positively a necessity for bodily segregation of biking site visitors from the carriageway. This gives lots of security and that’s wanted in most elements of town, smaller roads included.
How can the ORR biking observe change public notion on biking? Can it’s scaled up?
Sure. The willingness to allocate house on a large highway, present it to cyclists and say ‘we wish to maintain you secure, are you able to come out and cycle’ is an enormous assertion that the federal government is making.
The scaling up is already occurring. They’ve deliberate nearly 80km of biking tracks, 30 km within the CBD space. However there’s a lengthy method to go. We ought to be doing 200 km yearly for the subsequent 10 years. However this can be a adequate begin. We have to now fill the streets with cycles and declare that highway house.
How can firms create the required infrastructure to facilitate biking to workplace?
I’ve targeted lots of my vitality on this concern for the final three years. Utilizing expertise, I checked out methods to make the IT crowd, who largely use motor automobiles, to modify to the bicycle. The try and convert a few of them has taken off fairly properly.
Firms present automotive parking heaps, automotive loans, insurances and petrol allowances to workers. Why can’t they supply the identical incentives to workers who come on a bicycle?
A cycle prices hardly Rs 15,000, which is lower than a mobile phone today. Going ahead, particularly in a post-Covid and climate-change period, the big variety of IT companies and MNCs ought to present incentives and construct increasingly more cycle parking heaps.
Each bicycle that is available in and each automotive that’s eliminated is effective actual property saved. Constructing automotive parking heaps value some huge cash. It’s rental house that’s going out.
Companies ought to be placing up devoted cycle parking heaps by default in each constructing.
Can biking be a viable last-mile possibility in residential and industrial areas?
It’s truly a really viable possibility. In some international locations, it’s the public transport operator that’s working cycle-sharing providers. To me, this integration with public transport is probably the most pure match for last-mile biking. Standalone cycle-sharing operators haven’t been capable of get the anticipated returns.