A bicycle is budget friendly, being cheaper than most other forms of transport, eco-friendly requiring absolutely no fuel, does not need much of parking space, helps keep the chic city-dweller fit without having to shell out for monthly gym subscriptions, and requires a very low maintenance. Put like that, it sounds like an ideal mode of transport. And yet, for most of us having owned a bicycle during our childhoods, a cycle is only a symbolic reminiscent of the adventures of our junior years and nothing more.
A statistical study conducted in Bangalore by Prof. Ashish Verma and his group from Dept. of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in collaboration with the M S Ramaiah Institute of Management, Bangalore and the Architecture and Regional Planning department, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, tells us why Bangaloreans seem reluctant to embrace the bicycle, an apparently ideal mode of transport.
Although 96% of the population in the city have cycled during their childhood, less than 5% continue to use this mode of transport during their adult years. The data collected using an extensive questionnaire based survey from people across Bangalore, including Yelahanka, Sanjay Nagar, Malleshwaram, Vijay Nagar and J P Nagar, revealed that although children have a very positive perception of cycling, as they grow, their disposition towards motorized modes increases and they find cycling an ‘uncool’ option.
The study notes that most people perceive switching to motorized vehicles to be in the natural order of things and quite undeniably, a sign of prosperity. Travel distance, weather conditions and attire are other prominent factors that dissuade Bangaloreans from choosing cycling over common modes of transport include. At an infrastructure level, the fact that most of the city does not have dedicated cycle lanes, signals or parking facilities is also a major deterrent.
Many government bodies across the globe are actively promoting cycling since such alternative transportations are the key to a truly habitable, sustainable city that can stand the test of time. In Bangalore, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) under the Government of Karnataka is doing its best to promote non-motorized transportation and bring about an increase in the usage of cycling in particular, in the city. In fact, some of us may be familiar with the ‘cycle day’ campaign that is being organized every Sunday in different parts of Bangalore, in this interest.
A major conclusion drawn from this study is that the key to promoting the use of cycles in Bangalore lies firstly in endorsing the bicycle as a sustainable means of transport, which is both economical and environment-friendly. “It is important to change people’s perception of bicycling as a poor man’s transport and encourage them to recognize its beneficial aspects”, says Prof. Verma.
The survey revealed that promotions using sports persons and Bollywood celebrities would be most effective at achieving this. Apart from promotions, development of suitable infrastructure such as cycle paths, parking areas, etc. would encourage more people to consider using a cycle, rather that depend solely on motorbikes, scooters, cars or buses, especially when traveling short distances.
“We have shared the results of our research with the commissioner of DULT”, says Prof. Verma. “DULT is a major decision maker in the city that has been spearheading a lot of initiatives in this realm. We are hopeful that these results can be used to formulate specific policies that can aid in the promotion of bicycling for urban commute, particularly in Bangalore”, he adds.
About the Authors:
Dr. Meghna Verma is an Assistant Professor at the M S Ramaiah Institute of Management, Bangalore
T.M. Rahul is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
PeesariVamshidhar Reddy is a student in the Architecture and Regional Planning, Department, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India
Dr. Ashish Verma is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
About the Study:
Title:The factors influencing bicycling in the Bangalore city
Publication:Transportation Research Part A