‘Galiyara’ is an uplifting concept in times of COVID-19; it aims to foster health and wellness, and further transform Kurukshetra into a model cycling city.
Pedal Beyond, a cycling group in the city of Kurukshetra, in Haryana partnered with the local municipality office, traffic team and police department and introduced a novel idea of ‘Galiyara’ meaning ‘Corridor’ dedicated for active lifestyle.
The authorities and the local community collectively planned and allotted the 2 km area of the dividing road between Sector 7 and Sector 10 in Kurukshetra city, making it car-free and accessible to public.
People now have the freedom to perform physical activities at the Galiyara in the early morning hours between 05:00 am to 07:00 am, and in the evening from 06:00 pm to 08:00 pm on all days.
Effective from 15th July, 2020 movement of cars and motorbikes in the Galiyara hours is completely prohibited. The new policy allows people of all age-groups and different socio-economic backgrounds and abilities to walk, jog, run, cycle or play in the safe corridor.
In response to this development, local MLA Subhash Sudha said “We encourage people to stay fit and boost their immunity with regular exercising to keep away from corona virus. And to keep our city free from pollution, we are nurturing the culture of cycling through this community initiative called Galiyara”.
Further he said “We want to form a group of maximum cyclists in the Kurukshetra city so that more and more people become health conscious and cycle to work. To increase participation, the idea of Galiyara will be replicated in other sectors in the near future”.
Unlike the other successful community campaigns implemented in India – the ‘Rahagiri day’ and ‘Equal Streets’ that involves multiple sporting activities inside barricaded streets, Galiyara purely focuses on building on the benefits of walking and cycling.
Excited about the launch of Galiyara, Ashutosh Sangwan, Co-Founder of Pedal Beyond said “As India seeks to unlock itself from the lockdown, Galiyāra gives us the opportunity to look at our streets from a different perspective. Pedestrians and cyclists are often ignored on our roads. Galiyāra seeks to bring a paradigm shift in how people view their streets. We want our roads to be safe for all including kids and senior citizens”.
Elaborating on the response he said “The initial response to Galiyāra has been overwhelming and I’ve had numerous people applaud the programme. Pedal Beyond wishes to sustain Galiyāra and introduce it to more cities with the help of the government”.
While his Co-partner Agam Garg who worked shoulder to shoulder to bring this project alive quoted “The Open Street Program like Galiyara provides freedom to cycle and walk safely while following social distancing norms. Galiyara also helps to promote the message of #Inclusivity and #FitIndiaMovement”.
“The main objective of the Galiyara was to help people reimagine their city and reclaim their streets. Galiyara programme is a milestone in accomplishing Pedal Beyond’s vision of making Kurukshetra a cycling-friendly city where people of all ages from 8 to 80 can cycle and walk safely. Seeing the overwhelming response, I urge all the cities of India to take up such initiatives to spread the word about STREETS FOR ALL”.
Road Safety Challenges:
Haryana is one of the polluted states in India with particulate matter PM2.5 averaging between 70-100 mark that falls under ‘Unhealthy’ bracket. (2019 avg.)
The sale of automobile in the state has almost doubled in last five years causing frequent congestion, pollution and road accidents. The state recorded 10944 accidents in 2019, with nearly 50% death rate. (Source: Government of Haryana, Transport Department).
Driving rule violations have also increased, “Last year in August, the Kurukshetra administration had suspended 20 driving licences and issued 553 challans for over speeding as action against traffic rule violations’ revealed a media report.
According to the Haryana Road Safety Action Plan, ‘Addressing city wide traffic congestion issues’, ‘Safety and accessibility of all travel modes for road users’, and ‘Child safety’ are few of the major focus areas amongst other concerns.
Apart from minimizing fatalities and bringing efficiency in safe movement of people, the objective of the Action Plan also highlights ‘the need to identify the existing challenges related to walking and cycling’.
Closing streets for automobiles and giving spaces back to people is a good beginning towards road safety and enhancing quality of life.
Around the world, such mass movements are picking up pace to break away from a car-centric society and have a more rational view of roads, with attempts to transform its cities through design intervention and awareness campaigns.
The Haryana Road Safety Action Plan document concludes “To combat road safety challenges, there needs to be a close coordination and collaboration using a holistic and integrated approach, across many sectors and many disciplines. Innovative road safety management techniques and policies are vital to reach the goal of zero fatalities”, therefore Galiyara concurs with the Safety Vision, and a step taken in the right direction.
Impact of ‘Galiyara’ on local Cycle Business:
If you are a loyal-reader of this blog you would remember the recent discussion we had about boom in cycling business in Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai and Ahmedabad cities in my previous article (Read: Smart Cities Mission Announces ‘India Cycles4change Challenge).
A similar trend is observed in the tier 3 city of Kurukshetra. I spoke to couple of local bike shops and here is what they had to share:
Janta Cycle Store:
“We have recorded a double digit growth in our business between June and July this year. Females and kids are the top buyers and mostly preferring cycles in the price range of 6000 to 10000 rupees. Our shop is just 3 kms away from Sector 7 where Galiyara is introduced. So yes, it is one of the factors adding to our business growth” – Sanjeev.
“We are located in the main market of Sector 7 and witnessing a spike in the number of footfalls with the onset of the new community space. Walk-ins are mostly males, 25+ asking for MTB bikes. Our customers are looking for quality bikes and willing to pay anywhere between 20000 to 30000 for good products” – Tanuj.
Enjoy the Galiyara image gallery, courtesy Pedal Beyond.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai