The Copenhagenize Index latest edition places Mumbai at 5th rank in the overall ranking of ‘Best Bicycle Friendly Cities’ on this planet. Mumbai, overtook Strasbourg, which has long been recognized as a premier destination for cycling in France. Copenhagen retained 1st place, followed by Amsterdam at 2nd position, Utrecht 3rd and Antwerp at 4th rank.
Although a fresh entry into this league, the journey for Mumbai involved a series of strong decisions, smart planning and dedicated measures executed by the government authorities and private developers. Urban planners introduced top class designs with modern technology which were complimented by a team of highly efficient engineers who brought these designs into realty.
With Mumbai getting aggressive with cycling infrastructure progress, one can now conveniently cycle through its wide network of dedicated cycle routes, solitary cycle routes and some shared bike paths in and out of the city. Engineers have done a remarkable job by laying safe and connected cycle tracks with red asphalt, bicycle stencils, cycle traffic lights, cycle parking garages, public bike sharing facility and automatic traffic counters for data capturing.
The daily cycle traffic data is recorded, gets stored on a cloud and can easily be converted into a dashboard for enhanced visualization and to study travel behaviour of cyclists. The local civic body has a dedicated cell for non-motorized transport which studies and analyses growth in number of cyclists. They also use the video footage’s for resolving issues faced by cyclists.
Each day, around 3 lakh commuters in Mumbai use a cycle for travelling to work with an average distance of 12 kilometers per person. The city has a vast connectivity of cycle routes measuring about 750 kilometers of segregated cycle lanes. In case of shared cycled routes, the cyclists have the first right of way. The traffic police department has curbed speed limits for cars – upto 30 kms per hour on smaller streets and 60 kms per hour on highways.
Cycling infrastructure and speed restriction on private vehicles has helped the city in reducing car population to just 2 lakh cars on the roads. Further, its mandatory for every private and government company to provide incentives to employees who arrive to office on their bicycles. Free shower facility and complimentary lockers are also part of government schemes.
Mumbaikar’s together, cover a distance of 36 lakh kilometers on a cycle daily. Of those who cycle, 55% are men while female cyclists constitute 45% of the total riders. Cycling is very popular amongst children. Parents and teachers encourage kids to cycle to school and college. 70% of children ride to school while rest use the school bus.
One evening, while I was cycling back home and reached a junction, I saw a car approaching me at a high speed, and I was certain to collide. Then abruptly…someone woke me up; the collision was avoided.
It was a dream!
Will Mumbai get Copenhagenized?
Author, Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai