The demands of pedal power

Cycling enthusiasts have drawn up a series of recommendations to be included in manifestos

The State has not been immune to the cycling revolution sweeping across the world in the wake of COVID-19. As bicycles make a comeback, largely owing to health and environmental considerations, children and adults alike are taking to them like never before.

With Assembly election set for next month, cycling enthusiasts have drawn up a series of recommendations that they want the political coalitions to include in their manifestos and implement when they form the government.

Cyclists say their increasing number in the State represents a healthy society that lives in harmony with nature. Cycling, they underline, has to become more than a fad and an integral part of commuting. Cycling infrastructure also needs to be brought up to scratch, much like that in cities around the world, especially in the past year. This has been kick-started in a small way, with dedicated cycle tracks promised along the State’s coastal highway and roads in major cities.

People’s representatives and the government, says the city-based Indus Cycling Embassy (ICE), have a key role in facilitating permanent infrastructure and devising projects for promoting cycling. Along with huge strides in education and health sectors, there is need for roads in the State to be improved to international standards with cycle paths and other facilities. This will make Kerala a model for the country, says the city’s bicycle mayor Prakash Gopinath.

After deliberations, the ICE has put forth demands that include car-free days every week; cycle tracks in every district along beaches or public parks; one road set aside every Sunday exclusively for cycling and walking; more motor-free zones and more open streets with curbs on motorised vehicles for fixed hours; cycle stations to promote bike sharing; one-tenth space in common parking areas for bicycles; multi-level car parking; and road signals to be made more colourful.

They also seek promotion of electric cycles and electric scooters; more campaigns in schools and colleges to promote cycling, specially marked lanes on newly built roads; curbs on illegal roadside parking of motorised vehicles; incentives to bicyclists in government sector; allowing use of electric wheelchairs on safe cycle tracks; and CCTVs in more places to curb misbehaviour towards cyclists.

Bicycle mayors of Kollam, Malappuram, Palakkad, Kozhikode, and Kannur too will submit their individual demands to the political fronts, says Mr. Gopinath.

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