Infographics to support cycling with increasing traffic in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolakta #CyKol
The advantages of using a car as a means of transportation for small distances are on the decline. In the metro cities of India, the situation is even more atrocious. So much so that it makes good sense to use a cycle to commute even for distances over 5 kms. All roads lead to Rome. And they are all clogged with traffic. Here’s a look at the transport scene in India and especially in Kolkata. The conclusion aimed at being that cycling around to get around will do more than keep you from being round. It’ll get you where you need to go quicker than most other forms of transport will.
Our major cities are especially saturated with vehicles. Around 13% of all motor vehicles in the country are plying in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai alone. This was in 2002 and the number has only swelled since then. Take a look at Delhi:
Centre for Science and Environment has estimated that nearly 1,000 new vehicles are being introduced on the streets of New Delhi every single day.
Recapping the situation in Delhi:
- increase in number of vehicles.
- decrease in average speed of vehicles.
- almost half of the trips made are below 5km. For distances less than 5km, it makes a lot of sense to use a cycle instead of a car.
A fact recognized by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. It has started a Rent-a-Cycle initiative at metro stations. It started off with stands at three metro stations, Pragati Maidan, IP station and Patel Chowk to encourage people to take up cycling and now it has over 20 stands to rent out cycles. It costs only Rs 10 to rent a cycle for 4 hours.
Mumbai today has over 7,200 cars for every km of road. The obvious solution to decrease the congestion would be to construct wider roads. According to architect Hafeez Contractor “Over the last few years the Maharashtra Government has not done anything to improve the situation of the roads. Simply making the roads broader will not help. Underpasses need to be made. Arterial roads, especially a ring road needs to be made to avert the traffic problem.”
Yeah that would help. Or we could just switch to cycling. Mainly because for every 10 per cent increase in road capacity, there is a resultant 9 per cent increase in traffic. And a bicycle doesn’t require as wide a road as a car does. One argument against using a cycle would be that the time taken to commute by it is a lot longer than the time taken by a car. That would hold true if the roads were empty. But with the increase in traffic, it has come to pass that over small to medium distances, one can actually travel faster on a cycle than in a car.
Recognizing the need for a better alternative, Mumbai has witnessed an amazing initiative by Raj Janagam and Jui Gangan which goes by the name of Cycle Chalao.
Although they disclaim credit for the idea to a taxi driver who upon being implored to go faster shouted at them to get a cycle. The bikes were rented out against the students’ college ID cards through subscriptions. Initially it was an initiative for college students. And a bike ride costs just Rs. 3. That’s really affordable.
The major argument against using a cycle for commuting would have been that the time taken to travel by it is a lot more than the time taken on other means of transport. That argument is slowly becoming invalid, at least in the major cities in India. In Kolkata, the number of vehicles in the city has increased by 20 per cent in 2003-2008.
A city, according to experts, should have 26 per cent space for roads, but all that Kolkata has is 6 per cent. It’s a story repeated in city after city.
Here’s a post from Team BHP forums, lamenting the state of traffic here in Kolkata: ___________________________________________________________
Rise in traffic congestion in Kolkata in recent times
I think off late it’s become almost impossible to travel in Kolkata during office hours. Everyday, I travel from Behala to Sec V & back home – it takes me approx. 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours on each leg of the journey to travel just 20kms. I think number of cars on the roads has suddenly increased a lot and this coupled with poor road infrastructure is leading to a bigger chaotic situation in the near future.
I have been travelling through this route for the past 4 years and I remember we used to attain full speed at the AJC Bose Road flyover & near the Nikko Park area – nobody had ever witnessed traffic jam there. Today, the jam starts before you exit the AJC Bose Road flyover at Park Circus and the Sec V jam now-a-days has started to extend till in front of Nalban. Worst thing is that the cops dont need to impose a speed restriction on the EM Bypass anymore as traffic crawls way below the speed limit in anycase. The story just gets repeated once again while returning home. Is this the collateral damage for development? ___________________________________________________________
The roads are congested and saturated with traffic. But there are alternate ways to commute here in Kolkata, right? Surely those are faster.
Take the Metros:
Average speed of metros is 30 km/hr. It takes about 5 minutes to get in and out of a metro station, assuming you have a smart card and don’t have to stand in queue for a token.
The interval between trains is 7 minutes in peak hours and 12.5 in other times. That is an average of just over 10 minutes giving more weightage to the non-peak hour times as they have a higher sample size. Probability of catching a train just as you enter would be near impossible to calculate. Lets assume it to be half of the difference between two trains, i.e. 5 minutes. It takes about 12 minutes for a metro car to traverse 5 stations That’s a total time of 5+5+12 to cross 4 kms in a metro.
One could run faster than that over that distance.
Earlier, trams ran on lines embedded in large grass patches reserved for them. These patches were ripped away in 2004 to make space for cars and buses. Trams now run in the middle of the road and passengers have to get past speeding traffic to catch a tram. Trams between Kalighat and Tollygunge now barely have 10 to 15 people even during peak hours—when a single car can accommodate over 150. Despite repeated requests from tram workers the lines were not realigned to sides of roads which would have allowed more passengers to board. The result: within four years of de-reservation of grass patches earnings from sale of tram tickets dipped by 42 per cent, according to the West Bengal Statistical Handbook, 2008.
Trams are going through a depressing phase, and they aren’t that fast to begin with. What with having to stop everytime there’s a chance of anything obstructing the tracks.
Most Indian cities have about 56 per cent to 72 per cent people making very short trips (below five kilometres trip length). Again, it doesn’t take much to run or cycle that distance. As one door closes, another opens. You may own a Mercedes but where are you going to drive it? Picture a haughty driver in an expensive car honking the horn in impossible traffic while you placidly pedel ahead of him on your cycle, shaking your head at him sagely. Maybe the simplicity of your commute will give his horn a pause and he may reevaluate his choice of vehicle.
All this shows that the time is ripe for Kolkata to start some kind of a rent a bike campaign. It had a Cycle Chalao, Batti Bujhao campaign. But that was a one off. There’s a need for a self sustaining campaign.
If the only thing holding it back is a name and a gimmick, here are a few thoughts:
Cycle Chalao, Bimaari Bhagao- cycle for health
Cycle Chalao, Kareeb Aao- cycle with friends
Cycle Chalao, Gareeb Ko Khilao- cycle and feed the poor with money saved on fuel
Cycle Chalao, Charbi Jalao- burn bodily fuel and fat
Cycle Chalao, Paise Bachao- save money on fuel
Cycle Chalao, Kamar Ghatao- cycle to look better.
Cycle Chalao, Horn Mat Bajao- reduce noise pollution
Cycle Chalao, Paryavaran Ki Mat Bajao- save the environment
If a splash is needed to usher in cycling, the India Cyclothon is coming to Kolkata for the first time. That could be a great opportunity for cyclists in India to make something happen to promote the culture of cycling in the city.
Details about the Cyclothon:
- Email (General): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Email (For Corporates): email@example.com
- Facebook – www.facebook.com/indiacyclothon
- Twitter – www.twitter.com/indiacyclothon
- SMS Short Code – CYCLO – 51818
Bibliography of some links, which aren’t hyperlinked: