Page 1

Cycling Infrastructure in India Problems & Strategies for the Implementation of Cycle Networks in Indian Cities Joseph Swain | India Resources Trust | WRI India | Bangalore | Summer 2012

EMBARQ India The World Resources Institute


Table of Contents Table of Contents




I. Introduction


II. Challenges to Cycle Planning in India Design Challenges Administrative Challenges Cultural Challenges

5 6 7 9

III. Indian Case Studies Pune Delhi

12 34

IV. Strategies for the Design & Implementation of Successful Cycling Infrastructure Design Strategies Administrative Strategies Cultural Strategies

52 53 64 65

V. Conclusion




I would like to thank Srikanth Shastry for his knowldge and guidance in this project, as well as the entire team at the EMBARQ India Bangalore office for their support and hospitality during this internship. I would also like to acknowledge the integral support from India Resources Trust (IRT) towards the project and I would like to thank IRT for providing me this opportunity to work on this project.



Many Indian cities, including Delhi, Indore, Pune, Bangalore, and Chennai, have implemented cycling plans since Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNRUM) made provisions for them in 2005. However, none has achieved a level of success so as to become a model for others. Why is this the case? This report suggests there are certain factors in Indian culture and city administration that present obstacles to the adoption of a typical cycling plan from Holland, Amsterdam, or the United States. Although proven in Western countries, such plans lack the Indianspecificity that will allow them to be successful in Indian cities. This report is intended to supplement an international cycling infrastructure design guide like NACTO with strategies for city administrators and designers that will ensure the project will get the support and use it requires, as well as a design that is relevant and effective in Indian culture. The report will first identify specific challenges designers and planners face when implementing a cycling plan in an Indian city. Then the report will look at case studies in Pune and Delhi, with supplemental information from Mexico City and other international examples. It will identify the successes and failures of those projects. Finally, it will synthesize the information from the cases and offer answers to the India-specific challenges. 4

I. Challenges to Cycle Planning in India What has impeded the success of cycling projects (thus far)?

Cycle Track in New Delhi

The following case studies, interviews, observations, and literature by both Indian and international organizations have identified several challenges to cycle planning that are unique to India. These fall into three categories: Design, Administrative, and Cultural challenges. Many of the challenges are interrelated, and a solution to a design problem may be effective only if part of a comprehensive solution to address related administrative and cultural problems as well.


Design Challenges Despite the many international design standards for cycling infrastructure, the design must be compatible with Indian road culture and systems to be successful. 1. Design of new infrastructure must consider varying priorities for different user groups. Cyclists in countries with high rates of cycling quote convenience and efficiency as the primary reason they cycle to work.1 However, research suggests different groups of Indian cyclists have different priorities. Most captive cyclists prioritize efficiency and directness far higher than safety and comfort, for example. Students and other groups of potential cyclists prioritize safety and comfort above directness, meaning the location and intended users of new cycle infrastructure will influence its design. Ignoring or addressing the priorities of a major user group can mean the difference between no one and everyone using the cycle network.

2. Unsafe, inefficient, and/or uncomfortable cycling infrastructure lacking proper lighting, drainage, paving, etc. deters use by both captive and potential riders. Cycling lanes, tracks, crossings, parking and other infrastructure competes with all transportation alternatives, including cycling on the existing carriageway. The vast majority of cyclists in India ride because they have no transportation alternative, yet in most Indian cities, they choose to ride on the roads with cars, buses and motorcycles rather than on cycle tracks. This is because they perceive (often correctly) that the carriageway is more direct, more comfortable, or faster than the cycle tracks. 3. Infrastructure is too inviting for cars, parking, scooters, pedestrians and hawkers. Alongside the first design challenge, cycling infrastructure competes with other spaces and modes for not only cyclists’ preference, but also the preference of all other road users. Cycle tracks that are too wide can attract motorists looking for a quick parking spot. If the track is moving faster than the traffic on the main carriageway, it invites two-wheelers to use it instead. If the pedestrian sidewalk is blocked or too narrow, then pedestrians may prefer the open cycle tracks instead. Thus, the design of cycling infrastructure must walk a fine line between appealing to cyclists, while not appealing to other users.

1 A Gehl Architects survey of Copenhagen commuters found that 61% cycle to work because it’s fast, easy and convenient, as compared to health (19%), financial (6%) or environmental (1%) reasons. Source: Cities for Bicyclists = Cities for People. Workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark. 21 June 2010. 6

4. Infrastructure is unusable by Indian-specific NMT vehicles like cycle rickshaws. Many international specifications are created with only bicycles in mind, but India has a variety of NMT transportation vehicles that could and should benefit from new cycling infrastructure as well. Cycle rickshaws in Delhi, cargo cycles in Pune and tangas in Mysore all divert some transportation needs away from the motorized sector, and providing ample space for these vehicles off the main carriageway can allow them to travel more comfortably, as well as allow motorized vehicles to move more smoothly in their own space.

A tanga carries passengers through the streets of Mysore

Administrative Challenges The structure, composition, and processes of governing bodies that oversee the implementation of cycling infrastructure have a great effect on its success. 5. Lack of official leadership and/or effective organizing bodies prevent consistent and comprehensive design and implementation. The organization of municipal corporations and transportation departments vary widely between Indian cities. However, the successful implementation of comprehensive and usable cycling infrastructure depends on effective leadership and coordination. In some cities like Pune, there was no official office or authority in charge of the cycling plan, resulting in a disconnected and


inconsistent cycle network. In many cases, there is no coordination between departments, meaning road, traffic, bus, and utility priorities can conflict directly with cycling infrastructure. Therefore, Indian cities must identify and empower an administrative organization within their own bureaucracy that will ensure the necessary leadership and coordination to implement cycling projects. 6. Absence of design and expert reviews in project development prevents proper coordination of systems. The usability of cycling infrastructure observed in the case studies was crippled by inconsistent and/ or lack of a clear cyclist-oriented design. Many cities lack stipulations in cycle infrastructure tenders for a design phase and subsequent reviews, leading to a waste of public funds because a track may be built, for example, but there is no review of plans by a planner with cycling experience. Such reviews would prevent much of the inconsistencies between departments and system plans.

7. Lack of continuous leadership impedes the establishment of long-term operations and maintenance processes. Many municipal officials who have control over cycling infrastructure projects are appointed and subject to change on an annual basis. The success of a project after construction relies heavily on the overseeing department, and several cities have seen cycle tracks neglected because of department heads without experience or sense of stewardship.

A cycle track in Pune


8. Absence of policy to protect cyclists and a passive enforcement of traffic laws threatens the safety and usability of new cycling infrastructure. Although many modes of road traffic could benefit from tighter regulation and enforcement, cyclist safety typically relies on other vehicles’ avoiding them, and riders have little power to keep other road users off their infrastructure. Both laws and enforcement are needed. Blogger Sudip Bhattacharya wrote the following account after finding the Delhi cycle tracks full of two-wheelers in 2010: “I tried talking to the cops they threatened me in return and asked me to produce documents stating right of bicycles on the bicycle lane.”2 When new cycling infrastructure is built, it needs to be actively protected for cyclist use only, lest hawkers, pedestrians and motorists occupy it. Although good design can minimize the need for protection, cyclists still depend on laws and support form traffic officials, especially in India where cyclists often occupy the bottom rung of the social ladder.

Cultural Challenges Indian road culture and the perception of cycling in cities has a significant effect on the number and type of riders on the roads, which in turn has an effect on the usability and safety of cycling infrastructure. 9. Cycling stigma and respect for cyclists on the road inhibit popularity as a mode of transportation. Car ownership is relatively low in India, as compared to two-wheelers and cycle ownership. In Delhi, there are still only 85 cars per 1000 people, as compared to the United States where there are more than 800 per 1000 people. However, car ownership remains a goal for most Indians because it represents high social status.3 Conversely, cycles occupy the very bottom rung of the social ladder, and because most all Indian cyclists ride because they cannot afford to do otherwise, cycles carry a stigma most Indians wish to separate themselves from as soon as they can afford to. To illustrate anecdotally, during the field research for this report, the manager of a Pune business hotel refused to allow a cycle to be parked in the lot in front of the hotel with cars and two wheelers. The cycle was relatively high-end, but he felt it would cheapen the image of the hotel. (He eventually relented on the condition it would be moved soon after sunrise.)

See this and other reflections on cycling in India at http://onourowntwowheels. com/2010/10/31/poor-little-bicycle-lane/ 3 Sahai & Bishop 1. Bus System Reform in Delhi. DIMTS Report. 2008.



This may be the greatest challenge to increasing ridership in Indian cities. Social symbols and stigmas can trump the convenience and efficiency of good management and infrastructure. To keep captive users cycling despite being able to afford more, and to persuade others to choose a cycle over a car or two-wheelers, cities much find ways to eliminate the stigmas and dissociate cycles from lower social status. 10. Encroachment and lack of discipline in Indian road culture threaten the safety and usability of cycle infrastructure. Painted cycle lanes that have no buffers do not separate motorized traffic from cyclists on Indian roads; in heavy traffic, they are indistinguishable from the main carriageway. Physically segregated tracks are also susceptible to encroachment by two-wheelers, particularly in heavy traffic, when the cycle track is moving faster than the carriageway. Not only does the presence of motor vehicles defeat the purpose of cycling infrastructure, but it also poses a safety hazard for slower-moving cycles and acts as a deterrent to potential users. 11. Lack of access to cycles for various groups prevents potential riders from cycling. Related to the cultural stigma, nearly all cycles in India are designed for working-class captive users. These ubiquitous cycles are inexpensive, solid, and easy to maintain, but they are also heavy and slow, as compared to cycles available in other parts of the world designed for recreational riding. These cycles are often made of aluminum or carbon, are lighter, faster, and often feature multiple


speeds and suspension. The appeal of cycling as an enjoyable way to commute or exercise is partly related to the availability of cycles that are less utilitarian and fun to ride. As of writing, there are only a handful of shops that offer such cycles in Indian cities. 12. Low public awareness of health and environmental benefits deters the growth of cycling in some demographics. In Copenhagen, nearly 20% of all cyclists cite health considerations as the primary reason they cycle, second only to convenience (61%).4 Although many in India are becoming more healthconscious, there is little public awareness of correlations between cycling and a healthy lifestyle.5 Because most people interested in fitness belong to demographics that typically do not cycle (middle- to upper-classes), drawing a connection between cycling and fitness has high potential for the growth of recreational cycling. This potential is particularly ripe if emphasis on cycling as a healthy mode of commuting can be brought to the public awareness.

4 Gehl Architects Cycling Workshop. 21 June 2010. Copenhagen, Denmark. 5 The fitness industry has grown nearly 200 percent over the last 8 years in Delhi: Anand, Shambhavi. Fitness business on a rise in Punjabi Bagh. The Economic Times. 11 Sept. 2012.


II. Indian Case Studies: Pune & Delhi The following case studies form the basis for this report. In both cities, cyclists, planners, urban designers, and activists were interviewed and existing infrastructure was documented and tested to analyze what contributes to the success or failure of cycle projects in India. Factors are categorized into three broad categories: design, administrative, and cultural.

PUNE Population: 6.1 million Climate: 12C min / 37C max. 600-700mm rainfall. Topography: 88% flat. Percent of accidents involving cycles: 3%6 Distribution of trips (2008):7 - 2-wheelers: …..28% - Automobiles: ...15% - Walking: ……..31% - Bus: …………. 15% - Bicycle ……….13%

6 Singh et al. 21. Study on Traffic and Transportation Policies in Urban Areas in India. Ministry of Urban Development. 7 Sanders, P.B.A. Measuring the Quality of Bicycle Routes in Pune, India.


Background Once known as the “Bicycle City,”8 Pune has seen a decrease in cycle ridership from over 50% in 1960 to 13% in 2008 (Others cite as low as 9% in 2009).9 The city adopted a Comprehensive Mobility Plan in 2008 in collaboration with the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Program (TRIPP), IIT Delhi, and CIRT. The bicycle master plan provided for 150km of bicycle tracks as part of a coherent cycle network in an effort to encourage bicycling in the city while reducing congestion from motorized traffic. The majority of Pune’s cycle tracks were developed under the provisions of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) that required cycle tracks alongside major arterials in the city. The tracks were planned in two phases, totaling about 180km.10 However, there are currently only about 90 km of tracks built. There are several kilometers built prior to the JNNURM tracks, and these are mostly removed from major thoroughfares. The quality of the existing tracks varies widely in terms of safety, directness and comfort. Much of the discrepancies have to do with the process in which they were created. The non-JNNURM tracks were the result of local neighborhood pressure on a project by the Irrigation Department, which functions independently of the Pune Municipal Corporation. The Irrigation Department filled in a canal near Fergusson College, and part of the mostly residential land was converted into NMT and shared tracks. The vast majority of tracks (more than 80km) were created later under the JNNURM provisions. These are found primarily along the BRT corridors and other arterial streets. Some of the earlier tracks, including those on Satara Rd are designed by urban design professionals. These offer physical separation from both motorized and pedestrian traffic, sufficient width on both sides of the road, painted lanes, bollards and signage. Other tracks, primarily those constructed after inspections for the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2008, were not designed, but implemented only to specified heights and widths by the civil engineer and/or contractor. This unplanned process led to missing signage, unspecified materials, curbing, and a general inconsistencies between segments of the cycle network. Regardless of the location, phase or design of the tracks, multiple surveys, reports and observations show that virtually no cyclists use the network regularly. Umbrajkar, Manish. City’s Cycle Plan Must Look at Safety First. The Times of India. 1 November, 2010. 9 Parisar. Know Your Cyclist: A Pilot Survey. 2009. 10 PMC Mobility Plan 2008



Three types of cycle tracks in Pune (from left): Pre-JNNURM; Early JNNURM; Later JNNURM/post-inspection.

Design Factors – Pune’s Cycling Infrastructure

Raised Tracks

Green Buffer

Safety The most compelling reason to use the cycle tracks is the fact that they are primarily removed from motorized traffic. This is done primarily by raising the tracks as much as 40 cm above street level. If there is sufficient width and no need for motorized transportation access, the track is occasionally buffered by a strip of either pavement (often occupied by vendors) or green space.


There are many factors that compromise the safety of the tracks, however. The greatest threat to cycle safety is at the intersections. There are no provisions or design criteria for cyclists at the intersections, and even when on comfortable, segregated tracks, cyclists are left to their own devices at road crossings and traffic circles. In some cases, cyclists must force themselves into traffic to bridge two segments of the same track because there are no crosswalks or lights. Unexpected left turns from motorized traffic can be a hazard when drivers are not looking out for cycles.


Obstructions and paving inconsistencies, when combined with poor lighting, an also be safety hazards. Often missing paving bricks, trees and curbs occur in otherwise smooth segments of the tracks. There is no dedicated lighting for the cycle tracks, making these hazards even more dangerous.

Finally, small details like the design and orientation of sewer grates can be hazards to cyclists in the day or night.

Hazardous paving, grates and poor drainange are details that can deter cycle track use. 15

Directness On the urban scale, Pune has the widest cycling network in India, currently boasting 130 km of official cycle tracks.11 Connectivity between major destinations like the universities and neighborhoods is decent, mainly because the tracks exist on arterials. The main exception is connectivity to the city center, including the railway station and commercial centers. Cyclists may be able to get from peripheral neighborhoods into the city, but cannot complete their journey on the tracks. Also, there are few collector segments that link neighborhoods to the main tracks, particularly in densely populated areas.

Constructed cycle tracks in Pune

However, on the micro scale, the directness of Pune’s cycle network is much more limiting. There are stretches of road that are designated as cycle track, but lack the actual infrastructure, resulting in simply a wider carriageway.


Sources range from 90-130km 16

Occasionally the tracks inexplicably end.

In other cases, automobile traffic patterns force cycle tracks into indirect routes. For example, on the busy Nagar Road, cyclists sticking to the tracks are forced to cross the river twice to continue on Nagar Road heading west. While a minor inconvenience for a car, this is a major detour for a cycle. A cycle-only shortcut could easily facilitate commutes, as well as give cyclists a priority with a privileged route. Many “official” obstacles also act as deterrents. These lamp posts, trees, fences, and bollards are constructed without any consideration for the users of the tracks.

“Official” obstacles obstructing cycle tracks in Pune


Intended to keep motorized vehicles off the tracks, these fences and bollards also dissuade cyclists from using them as well.

Finally, continuity and wayfinding can be a problem for cyclists unfamiliar with Pune. The preCommonwealth Games segments are often marked as part of the network, but at the ends of these segments, there are few signs, if any, that indicate where the tracks lead from there. In addition, the tracks are not always recognizable because they are paved, constructed, and demarcated differently in various areas in the city. The network lacks an identifiable marker, sign, or style that is consistent throughout. A survey of about 32km of tracks in Pune found eight different styles of paving, and many tracks were indistinguishable from pedestrian sidewalks.

Only the paving distinguishes the intended cycle track in Pune, but the bricks are less smooth than the carriageway, so cyclists choose to ride in the road. The yellow-painted tree in the middle of the track is another deterrent.


Comfort The pre-Commonwealth Games (professionally designed) tracks that exist in the southern area of the city have some elements of comfort, including smooth and continuous asphalt finishing, and separation or bollards that prevent (most) motorized traffic from entering into the cycle lanes. When unobstructed for longer stretches of at least a complete block, these tracks are a more attractive option than cycling in traffic.

Pre-Commonwealth Games (designed) track

A track separated on a green strip from traffic

However, the fact that nearly all cyclists prefer to join the motorized traffic on the road over the segregated cycle tracks suggests that the tracks provide little comfort to cyclists. The greatest obstruction is the variable widths of the tracks. In some places, tracks are a sufficient 3 m wide. In other places, they are only about 80 cm wide – barely wide enough for a single cycle.


Double-lane cycle track in Delhi. Width is 2.5m.


Besides the official obstructions listed above, there is evidence of poor design like bricks for paving (as opposed to smooth asphalt) that can get slippery when wet. Drainage problems on the tracks can lead to impassable puddles during the rainy season.

Poor drainage and paving materials obstruct smooth cyclinsg in Pune.

The intersection of the cycle tracks and driveways or other access ways requiring curb cuts has a great effect on the comfort of the cyclist. There are no guidelines for property access across the cycle tracks, and the usual solution is to cut the track to allow level access from the road. This solution results in repeated (and steep) ramps up and down, eliminating any momentum and smoothness of the surface. Sometimes there are no cuts at all.






Poor intersection design: carriageway is flat; cycle track goes down & up to meet it. Also, sometimes the curbs lack cuts, forcing cyclists to dismount.

A solution prioritizing cyclist comfort would maintain a continuous and level cycle track as much as possible. In this case, the access driveway would slope up to the level of the track. This would also improve safety as an indicator that one is crossing a cycle right of way.






Good intersection design: cycle/NMT track maintains its grade, while driveways are raised, forcing cars to recognize they’re crossing NMT space.

There are many human encroachments that prevent a smooth ride as well. The greatest problem is pedestrians using the tracks as pedestrian sidewalks. This occurs even when there is a designated sidewalk, but often the track is a better walking option because it is a) wider, b) closer to the road/ bus stop/attractions, and/or c) more open than the adjacent pedestrian sidewalk, which may be occupied by informal vendors, parking, etc.

Human encroachments: parking and dumping/storage.






ROW (includes cyclists)

separation strip (w/utilities)

cycle tracks appropriated by displaced pedestrians

pedestrian path appropriated by informal sector

Insufficient width of a pedestrian path and failure to anticipate hawkers forces pedestrians onto the otherwise-sufficiently wide cycle track in Pune (Satar Rd).


5.3m hawker space (incl. approppriated access road)





pedestrian path (too narrow for road type)

cycle tracks appropriated by pedestrian overflow

separation strip (w/utilities & landscape)

ROW (includes cyclists)

On this street, there is again a sufficiently wide cycle track, and enough room for a semi-formal market. However, the pedestrian path is still too narrow, and the fact it’s raised above the market strip and the track keeps pedestrians in the way of cyclists.

Other encroachments include motorbikes and auto-rickshaws.

Motorbike encroachement

Auto-rickshaw encroachment (because the median barrier prevented the rickshaw from turinging right)


Given Pune’s circumstances, it is surprising the cycle network has been such a failure. The city had sufficient will, funds and space to create model cycle tracks for India. In fact, many of the roads where the network exists (or would exist) actually have far more width than is required for proper tracks.



ROW (mixed traffic)

narrow lane possibly planned for cycling, mostly used by motorbikes



ROW (mixed traffic)

narrow lane possibly planned for cycling, mostly used by motorbikes

3.8m unmarked shoulder used for cycling, parking, walking, auto dropoffs, etc.

3.8m unmarked shoulder used for cycling, parking, walking, auto dropoffs, etc.

Pune is well-equiped for a comprehensive cycling infrastructure, particularly because it has enough right-of-way to accommodate all modes of transportation. These modes often self-segregate themselves, and well designed infrastructure could help cyclists and pedestriands navigate the city more quickly, safetly and comfortably.


It is impossible to pinpoint a single design criterion that is responsible for cyclists to choose the road over the cycle tracks. Many researchers believe that all components within the safety, directness and comfort categories must be properly in place for the cycle tracks to function as intended. Although Pune’s infrastructure is far beyond what one can typically find in India, it is lacking in all three critical areas, dissuading nearly all cyclists from using it. Small design oversights like choice of paving, the placement of trees, and pedestrian paths made the difference between successful and ignored infrastructure. Additionally, to get the details right in the beginning would have cost little or nothing in additional funds; only careful planning and coordination would have been required. There are no standard guidelines for the design of cycle tracks in Pune. A set of established guidelines that prioritized safety, relationships between transportation modes, materials, signage, comfort, etc., might have been established in the beginning and explicit in all tenders to ensure quality and consistency across all track construction.

Administrative Factors – Managing Pune’s Cycle Infrastructure The JNNURM Cell The majority of Pune’s cycling infrastructure fell under the responsibility of a JNNURM project management cell created within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) that was to plan and implement the projects to meet JNNURM standards. The projects stipulated providing cycle tracks as part of the new BRT corridors, and in most cases the cycle infrastructure was executed. However, JNNURM gave few specific guidelines for the design of the tracks, and as the previous section shows, they were compromised by inconsistencies and lack of knowledgeable design. The JNNURM cell consisted of members from relevant PMC departments, including the road and traffic departments. The cell had general decision-making power within the PMC, which allowed it to effectively coordinate and manage the road projects. Although the early cycle tracks, along Satara Rd and Shankar Seth Rd, were created with the input of an urban designer, an urban designer was not a regular or official member of the cell. All other cycle track decisions were made by engineers from the road department or contractors on site. This organization of the PMC allowed the cycle tracks to be implemented, but left all but a few created without urban design knowledge or guidelines to ensure consistency or quality.12 12

Gadgil, Ranjit. Interview at Parisar. 8 August 2012.


The JNNURM cell neither retained nor claimed responsibility for the supervision and maintenance of the cycle tracks after they were completed. The result was that no single person or department within the PMC had jurisdiction over them, leaving others, like the road or garden departments, free to install lamp posts or trees in the middle of the tracks. While the PMC refused to construct new tracks, citing the fact that cyclists were not using the existing ones, cyclists like those representing the affinity group, Pune Cycle Pratishthan, pointed to unacceptable conditions and demanded the existing tracks be fixed. The NMT Cell In February of 2008, the PMC established an NMT Cell, which was to coordinate the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in the city. This was a requirement of a memorandum of understanding signed with the Interface for Cycling Expertise (I-CE) in an attempt to build cycling capacity in the city.13 The cell was commissioned to do the following:14 a. Create an NMT mission statement

b. Create a consistent set of standards and designs for NMT projects c. Ensure compliance with NMT infrastructure d. Ensure maintenance of NMT infrastructure

e. Propose changes and actions that will improve and/or promote NMT f.

Undertake outreach and promote NMT

g. Engage with techinical experts and citizens on NMT issues

Although this cell would appear to fill the vacuum of control of the NMT infrastructure, its organization and composition deterred any progress in cycling or pedestrian improvements. Representation in the cell was limited to only engineers from the road department and select NGOs like Pune Cycle Pratishthan. This meant that a department with an interest in NMT zones might not have jurisdiction over its own infrastructure. For example, the bus transportation department (PMPML), would not be included in decisions that might affect bus stop location. In addition, the NMT cell relied on strong leadership, which was generally lacking. It held only three official meetings that resulted in no actions to improve NMT infrastructure. A primary reason for this was its position as a relatively low priority in Municipal Corporation leadership. Representatives from the NMT also cited the lack of power authority over other departments. Unless the heads of 13 14

I-CE Bicycle Partnership Program. Office Orders of the Municipal Commissioner, PMC, 25 February, 2008.


each department were to participate in the decision-making process, the NMT would have little power over individual departments. Also, because Pune is divided into 14 jurisdictional wards, responsibility is too easily handed off between the PMC and each ward. Therefore, for the NMT to make meaningful decisions, each ward would need to be represented in the NMT Cell, or at least be consulted when projects affected it. The only way the NMT cell can fulfill its mission, therefore, would be if it retains some authority over individual departments, rather than within or below them. This could be accomplished by 1) mandating the heads of each relevant department be appointed to the cell; 2) heading the cell with a high-ranking commissioner who can call meetings and enforce action; and 3) including representatives from wards to establish responsibility over individual projects.15 Project Design Process The variations in the design and quality of Pune’s cycle tracks is a reflection of the lack of a prescribed process for design and implementation specific to NMT infrastructure. In the first JNNURM phase, the cycle tracks were designed by a urban planner, and in subsequent phases, the tracks were either not designed, or designed by an engineer in the Roads Department. The NMT cell would be the logical entity responsible for ensuring cycle tracks are properly designed and approved by qualified designers. However, no such experience existed on the Pune NMT cell. Nevertheless, the inclusion of a qualified cycle-track designer or panel in the NMT cell may not ensure quality cycle tracks are implemented. Parisar points out that both the project implementation process and the way an NMT panel (NMTPs) is appointed are important. Any projects that include a new cycle track must have the NMTP actively involved in the design process, and the NMTP must approve final plans as part of the city review. Additionally, all road projects whose scope includes cycle tracks must have plans approved by an NMTP before construction. To ensure the NMTP is qualified, Parisar argues the positions must not be like a typical NMT cell appointment or tendered service, but an appointment. The city council and head of the NMT cell would approve this appointment. In addition to NMT design guidelines for city projects, there should therefore also be guidelines listing qualifications for appointees on the NMT panel.

15 Background and suggestions for the NMT cell are collected from interviews on 8 August, 2012, with Ranjit Gadgil of Parisar and Jugal Rathi, an NGO representative for Pune Cycle Pratishthan in Pune’s NMT cell.


Public Bike Sharing The PMC entered into a public-private partnership (PPP) in 2010 to implement a public bike sharing system (PBS) that would promote cycling in the city. The PMC tender called for an initial system comprised of 300 cycles spread over 25 stations. The system would require a Rs. 700 membership fee for 5 years, and rentals would be via a smart card system, costing nothing for the first 30 minutes, Rs. 5 for the second 30 minutes, and Rs. 10 for each subsequent half hour. Funding would come from membership, rental and advertising fees.16 However, the PBS plan was dropped when the PPP bidder failed to raise funds. One challenge was relying too heavily on advertising fees in an environment where the value of advertising is low, due to a lack of regulation. Parisar, a primary proponent of the Pune PBS system, emphasizes the need for both a strong corporate sponsor and the support of a high-level municipal commissioner, or possibly a state transport authority. Pune’s attempt at a PBS has shown that the support of NGOs and contractors can help with the design and implementation of a viable system, but cannot support it completely.

An abandoned public bike share station in Delhi

Cultural Factors – Building a Cycle Culture in Pune Although the number of cycle owners in Pune has decreased steadily over the past three decades, the city still has a significant percentage of trips by cycle (13%), and more than 150,000 people still own cycles.17 The vast majority are “captive” riders – those who cycle because of financial constraints, rather than by choice.18 There are relatively few statistics on captive riders, defined as those who fall under the poverty line of earning at most Rs. 5000 per month, of which Rs. 750 is spent on transportation. In large cities, their cycling rate can be as high as 80%, and even higher among those in informal distribution activities (nearly 100%). 16 Parisar: 17 Umbrajkar, Manish. City’s Cycle Plan Must Look at Safety First. The Times of India. 1 November, 2010. 18 Statistics on the exact percentage of captive users are not readily available, but cycling activists in the city generally assume the number is between 95-99%. 28

However, Pune is at the center of a quickly growing movement of “hobby” cyclists – those who choose to cycle for fun, health, social and/or competitive reasons. Organizations like Lifecycle, a local high-end cycle shop, and Pune Cycle Pratishthan have promoting cycling as a hobby, in addition to a means of transportation, for more than a decade. Activists see hobby cyclists, who typically fall in the upper/upper-middle classes, as having the greatest growth potential in the city. Unlike captive users, these users are social and economic leaders who can serve as examples to others.19 Group Rides Many groups have found that organized group rides are effective in growing a hobby cycling culture from the ground up, echoing findings of I-CE and other international cycling promoters. Such events happen on a regular basis, often daily, weekly or monthly, with more attending each time. One promoter and owner of Lifecycle Mall, Nachiket Joshi, remembers organizing his first ride through the city when only two people attended. Today he organizes weekly rides with as many as 6,000 riders. Every few months Lifecycle organizes long-distance excursions to Ladakh for mountain biking enthusiasts. Pune Cycle Pratishthan holds regular rallies that involve 5-km rides around the city, as well as multi-day rides of over 1000 km. Such rides, especially those within the city, have great visibility that allows them to promote cycling, and are largely responsible for Pune’s growing hobby cycling culture. In addition to group rides, there are a growing number of people in Pune who are cycling competitively. There are several organized road races in and around Pune, and in 2011, the National Road Cycling Championships were held there. While races in India are relatively few and far between, the circuit is growing, and Joshi believes that, if well publicized, these events can change the image of cycling and raise the aspirations of cyclists in the city. Cycling Technology Joshi, the owner of Pune’s only high-end cycle shop, points to the availability of new and exciting cycles as a catalyst for cycling culture. In contrast to the ubiquitous Atlas- and Hero-brand models that haven’t changed for 50 years in India, imported brands are beginning to emerge in some major cities like Pune, Bangalore and New Delhi. These cycles are typically American and European brands and feature modern technologies like shock absorbers, aluminum or carbon frames and up to 27 speeds. Joshi and Jugal Rathi agree that cycles in India need to make a departure from the industrial models to appeal to a new generation of cyclists. Such cycles can go more places faster and can add an element of fun to an activity that until recently was purely utilitarian in India. 19

From interviews with Nachiket Joshi and Jugal Rathi on 7-8 August, 2012.


High-end cycles can attract potential riders from different demographics

Signs of new technology fueling a rise in cycling culture is evident in United States, where in 2011 73% of cycle trips were for recreation while only 10% of trips were for commuting. As mountain bike technology improved and became mass-produced in the late 1980s and 1990s, the sport became popular across the country. Similarly, road cycles have become more popular as carbon frames and better components became commercially viable, accounting for 24% of all cycle sales in 2011, up from 16% in 2005.20 Furthermore, Joshi believes that cyclists should not only be excited about their cycles, but also be able to maintain them themselves. He holds classes and workshops to help spread the knowledge on all maintenance points, from changing a tire to fixing a hydraulic disc brake. Like cycle promotion in United States,21 such programs slowly grow a cycling culture by cultivating expertise and appreciation for cycles themselves.

20 Industry Overview. National Bicycle Dealer’s Association. 2011. 21 See Cascadia Bicycle Club ( or REI classes and events (http://www., for example.


Government Incentives Pune’s local government has considered some pro-cycling policies, but has not been able to pass many. One example is a 4% city-tax exemption on imported cycles. However, this reduction pales in comparison to the tax hike that the national government imposed recently that raised import taxes on cycles from 10% to 30%. Cycling activists criticize this policy as sending the wrong message to would-be cyclists throughout India. Parisar and other activists have pushed for both public- and private-sector incentives that would reward those who cycle. These might include a financial incentive to ride a cycle to work, for example. Although nothing has transpired in policy, some businesses in Pune now offer a monthly financial incentive, changing and parking facilities or extra time in the mornings to cycle commuters. The Pune Municipal Corporation considered a program in 2010 to promote cycling within its relatively large student population with a Rs. 4 crore initiative to provide 50,000 bikes to indigent students. This program was never implemented because officials passed off responsibility. The corporation is currently considering giving a financial incentive of Rs. 1,000 per year to indigent students who cycle, but the program would be severely underfunded at Rs. 10 lakhs, according to Rathi.22 In Pune, the most significant incentive the city government has provided is the cycling infrastructure, with the help of JNNURM. A financial commitment like that could go a long way in promoting a cycling culture, activists like Gadgil and Rathi argue, if only the cycle tracks had been executed and maintained to an acceptable standard. The infrastructure is key to both promoting cycling as a hobby, as well as keeping captive users cycling, even when their financial situations improve. Promoters agree that the goal of the PMC should be to implement well-designed infrastructure that would make cycling simply the most convenient option. Then commuters would freely choose cycling over other transportation modes, regardless of economic stature.


Thite, Dinesh. Is PMC Re-cycling an Old Promise? Pune Mirror. 12 April 2012.


Learning from Pune Pune’s cycling infrastructure is currently the largest most comprehensive in India. However, there are many factors that prevented it from succeeding in promoting cycling in the city. The key points to take from the Pune case study are: Design & Infrastructure · Building cycle tracks is not enough; they must prioritize cyclist safety and comfort. · Directness must be designed on all scales, from continuous routes within the city to providing unobstructed riding on the tracks. · Raising the cycle tracks above the road level is effective in improving rider safety. · Cycle tracks must be designed to segregate cyclists from both motorized traffic and pedestrians. · Cycle tracks must be designed to segregate cyclists from hawkers and informal markets. · Details are important: the drainage, paving, bollards, sewer grates, and curb cuts will encourage or prevent the use of the tracks. · Cycling tracks must be protected from other city departments’ installing “official” obstructions like street lamps, bus stops, or landscaping. · Intersections must be carefully designed with cyclist safety in mind. Strategies such as “bike boxes” should be considered. · Removing cycle tracks from main arterials to less trafficked areas like parks, service roads, etc. can improve comfort and use of cycle tracks. · The city must develop a detailed set of guidelines for the design of cycle tracks, focusing on safety, relationships between transportation modes, materials, signage, comfort, etc.


Administration and Management · An autonomous NMT cell within the municipal corporation with full responsibility and jurisdiction over the NMT infrastructure is essential in effectively constructing and maintaining a cycle network. · The NMT cell must have decision-making power by organization: it should include the heads from all relevant departments (road, traffic, bus, garden, etc.). · The NMT cell needs strong leadership by a relatively high-ranking commissioner who can call meetings and make decisions. · The NMT cell must include the participation of all wards or sub-sections of the city to resolve responsibility of NMT projects. To avoid over-encumbered meetings, the NMT cell might involve an individual ward only if a project is in its jurisdiction. · The NMT should involve the participation of cycle interest groups and experienced urban designers. · Design guidelines for cycling infrastructure must be explicitly laid out in project tenders. The guidelines should be developed and supervised by a relatively autonomous panel (not a tendered contract). This panel should have an active role in the road and construction process · A PBS system within a PPP model requires strong leadership from a high-ranking commissioner, as well as a strong private backer. A PBS system could be successful with the full support of a state transportation authority. Promoting Cycling Culture · Cycling interest groups can increase cycling popularity by making cycling visible in the city with regular group rides, competitions, and promotional activities and events. · The availability of new cycles and technologies can make cycling easier and more fun, thereby growing and reinforcing the cycling culture. ·

The municipal government can provide numerous incentives to promote cycling, including: o Eliminating taxes on imported cycles o Providing tax and/or financial incentives to those who purchase a cycle and cycle regularly o Giving businesses tax/financial breaks for providing employees incentives and infrastructure (parking, changing rooms, etc.) for cycling to work. o Providing free or subsidized cycles to students. o Invest in a PBS system (see Political Management). o Invest in quality cycling infrastructure (see Design & Infrastructure) in a long-term commitment to develop a comprehensive cycling network in the city.


NEW DELHI Population: 11 million Climate: Moderate winters (lows = 10C); Hot summers (highs = 39C). Topography: Relatively flat Percent of accidents involving cycles: 6%23 Distribution of trips (2008):24 - 2-wheelers: …….16% - Automobiles: .....9% - Walking: ……....34% - Bus/Metro: .…....29% - Bicycle ………...4% - Cycle Rickshaw…8%

Background The cycle tracks in New Delhi are a component of the BRT Corridor project, approved in 2004 as part of the city’s Integrated Mass Transit Plan and constructed between 2006-08. Only 14.5 km of the corridor have been built, from Dr. Ambedkar Nagar to Delhi Gate, and the completion of the planned 310km is in doubt. Construction of the southernmost 5.8km were accelerated in anticipation of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. However, cycle tracks were designed and implemented as a priority second only to the BRT infrastructure itself.25

Cycle tracks on the BRT Corridor near Moolchand

23 Singh et al. 21. Study on Traffic and Transportation Policies in Urban Areas in India. Ministry of Urban Development. 24 Singh et al. 35. Study on Traffic and Transportation Policies in Urban Areas in India. Ministry of Urban Development. 25 TRIPP. First Delhi BRT Corridor: A Design Summary. 2005.


Although cycling in Delhi has declined significantly in the past decades, from 19% in 1980 to 5% in 2010 the city nevertheless has a significant number of daily trips by cycle, estimated between 0.9 and 1.2 million in 2008.26 Captive riders, who rely on cycles to commute or for their businesses, make the vast majority of these trips. Designers of the BRT corridor focused on these captive riders as the starting point for the design of the cycle tracks. In addition, Delhi has an active cycle rickshaw culture, and the needs of both cyclists and rickshaws influenced the final specifications.

Design Factors The correlation between high cycle traffic and the presence of feeder tracks near Chirag Delhi may underscore the importance of a comprehensive approach in a cycle network. However, at the time of observation, many, cyclists were using the main carriageway despite the feeder tracks, and the proximity to relevant neighborhoods may be a more critical factor. In fact, the highest levels of traffic is found in the 5.8 km stretch from Ambedkar Nagar to the Moolchand Metro stop, and those involved in the project agree that this has to do with the easy connection to working-class neighborhoods (i.e. high rates of captive users) like Tigri, Deoli, and Chirag Delhi.27 Peak traffic in each direction can reach 2000 cyclists per hour in this stretch. Because only the southernmost segments, from Ambedkar Nagar to Moolchand, are regularly used, most of the following assessment is focused on these 5.8km.

Northern Segments - 8.7 km - 2006 - not completed - no designated BRT lanes - poor CT maintenance - little CT use


Southern Segments - 5.8 km - 2006-08 construction - May 2008 pilot opening - designated BRT lanes - regular CT maintenance - high CT use

Chirag Delhi

26 Tiwari. Planning for Non-Motorized Transport in Cities. 2010.

Background, interpretations, and suggestions come from interviews with Amit Bhatt and Umang Jain on 20 Aug, 2012, and Sandeep Gandhi on 21 Aug, 2012.



The design of the cycle tracks along the BRT corridor varies in terms of safety, directness and comfort. An important design consideration for the tracks, according to the designers, was the idea that they would not be able to count on police or traffic enforcement to restrict cars and other motor vehicles from encroaching on the tracks. Therefore, they relied on a competition-based strategy, and the subsequent critical mass of ridership. This means that each component of the BRT corridor is designed to be the most appealing (in terms of speed, comfort, safety, directness, etc.) to only the mode of transportation it was intended for. For example, two-wheelers would not encroach on the cycle tracks because they move too slowly, and pedestrians would not encroach because they are too busy for comfortable walking. The relative attractiveness of each lane would then selfreinforce itself with larger volumes of appropriate users. Safety The segregation of the Delhi cycle tracks from the main carriageway and the pedestrian paths is the most significant safety factor, as research has shown separate facilities reduce the rate of accidents by 40% and fatalities by 50%.28 Cyclists rarely interact with motorized traffic on the fast-paced arterial roads (50+ kmph). Although the tracks are often on the same level as the road, they are separated by a curb or median.


4.1m Metro Infrastructure

effective width of cycle tracks

pedestrian path w/warning stripe & utilities below

0.4m separation strip (w/utilities)

Typical NMT section in Delhi, in the BRT southern segment.


Tiwari (2002) 12. There is no data analyzing the effect of Delhi’s cycle track on accident rates yet.


ROW (one way)

Intersections and street connections are also designed for safety. Some busier intersections feature “bike boxes” that push the stop line for motorized traffic back several meters to give waiting priority to cyclists. These green boxes allow cyclists to collect at lights ahead of other traffic, giving them important visibility and preventing left-turn accidents, which are some of the most common accident types for cyclists.29 Cycle tracks connect directly to these green boxes, allowing cyclists to remain segregated from other vehicles at intersections.



Typical Bike Box design in Delhi, in the northernmost segment near the courthouse.

The safety of the bike boxes is dependent on their use. When enough cyclists are waiting at the intersection in the box, then motorized traffic will respect the space.30 If there are no cyclists, or only one cyclist waiting in the box, then other vehicles may disregard them. Also, some of the boxes are not planned properly, with the space serving as both a pedestrian crosswalk and a bike box. In areas with many pedestrians, this can discourage the use of the bike boxes.

29 Tomlinson, David. Conflicts between Cyclists and Motorists in Toronto, Canada. 2000. p.3. 30 However, many 2-wheelers were observed in the bike boxes. They often stop at the stop line and then “creep up” into the box as they wait at the light.


However, because much of the danger posed to cyclists at intersections is due to their poor visibility to other motorists, the implementation of bike boxes in Delhi is a step in the right direction for safer cycling. Street connections – where a side street connects to an arterial – sometimes prioritize the cycle tracks as well. Track crossings will often have a change in materials that indicates to drivers that they are crossing a continuous cycle lane. Small details like this can make cyclists much more visible to motorists.





Directness On the urban scale, the Delhi cycle tracks are not comprehensive enough to be called a network. They exist only along one arterial, and the most useable tracks only form a 5-km continuous route. However, on a smaller scale, the tracks are designed to prioritize easy and direct travel along the arterial. Much of this is due to the fact that the tracks are just part of a comprehensive street plan, including a BRT corridor, lanes for motorized traffic, and a pedestrian sidewalk. Unlike in Pune, where trees, bus stops and lampposts are some of the most common obstructions in the cycle tracks, planners designed such infrastructure into the plan from the beginning. This ensured that the cycle tracks would be uninterrupted.


buffer, utilities, landscaping


main carriageway (2 lanes)


seperation curb


BRT lane




2.3m median & landscaping


main carriageway (3 lanes)


buffer & utilities

10.2m (varies)


2.3m cycles

4.0m pedestrians utilities below

pedestrians utilities below


A “complete� multi-modal BRT corridoor in Delhi, near Lajpat Nagar

Typical tracks are 2.5m wide, allowing traffic in both directions. The width of the lanes is designed to accommodate two cycle rickshaws passing each other. The southernmost segments of the corridor in Delhi feature bi-directional tracks on both sides, while the northernmost segments only have segregated tracks on the northbound side. There is a painted, single-direction cycle lane on the southbound side.

A painted cycle lane in Delhi.


Having bi-directional tracks on both sides of the corridor make cycling both more direct and safer. Such a system provides for a road culture where cyclists often choose cycling against traffic over crossing a street twice. There are several segments of the Delhi BRT corridor that are not used, primarily because of obstructions to the tracks’ continuity and directness. All of these segments are in the northern part of the corridor. Obstructions include trees and PBS stands constructed in the middle of the cycle.

Planned and unplanned obstacles renders entire segments of the Delhi cycle tracks useless.


Intersection design is crucial to the perceived directness of the cycle tracks. Intersections along the BRT corridor vary in terms of visibility, continuity and directness. Many major intersections involve one or SCR CR IBED C OS SIN YCLE G

more “channelizer” roads that allow left-turning traffic to flow in the absence of bike boxes,


seamlessly. This means that Typical designated path for cyclists at an intersection

which put cyclists in the main carriageway, cyclists must wait for traffic and cross three roads instead of one. If the cycle track is raised, then this could mean up to six grade changes. Intersection conditions like these affect the directness of the tracks, and if they occur too frequently, cyclists will be discouraged from using those tracks.

At arterial junctions, cyclists must cross four separate lanes

Comfort The comprehensive planning of the entire BRT corridor has a noticeable effect on the cycle tracks’ comfort, particularly with regard to encroachment. Because the pedestrian paths are often unobstructed and sufficiently wide, cyclists do not encounter much pedestrian encroachment. In busier areas, space for hawkers has been provided so they will not appropriate the cycle or pedestrian paths. In addition, the tracks themselves are sufficiently wide to allow smooth cycling despite sharing lanes with slower rickshaws. The tracks are most comfortable in the southernmost segments where there are large numbers of cyclists.


However, in areas where there are few or no cyclists, encroachment is more evident. People park cars and drive two-wheelers on the tracks. In heavy traffic, two-wheelers take the cycle tracks instead of the main carriageway.

Encroachment on the cycle tracks when there are no cyclists present

Hawkers occasionally set up permanently in areas that see little cycle use. In the process, this prevents any future use.

A hawker occupies the cycle track in the northern segment, near the Delhi zoo.


Also, there is little accommodation for cycle rickshaw parking in certain high-traffic areas like near metro stations. This means that they will wait for passengers on the cycle tracks, essentially occupying one lane.

Designers failed to anticipate waiting rickshaws at the Lajpat metro station.

Maintenance is mixed along the Delhi cycle tracks. In the southern segments they are generally well maintained, with few potholes and little debris obstructing paths. In the northern segments, there were several areas with garbage and damaged infrastructure, but there were workers sweeping the tracks not far away as well. The varying levels of maintenance may be a factor in explaining why the northern tracks are not used.

Maintenance (and lack thereof ) in Delhi

Drainage is another problem throughout the BRT corridor. There are many patches that do not have sufficient slopes or outlets, leaving large puddles on the tracks. This does not stop cycle rickshaws, but it may deter regular cyclists if the alternative (the main carriageway) is dry.


Poor drainage and maintenance in the southern segements in Delhi

Lighting is an important comfort factor in Delhi, where many commuters ride home at night. There is sufficient lighting at night in the southern segments, matching the lighting level for the main carriageway (40 lux). In Delhi the cycle track lighting is yellow while the carriageway lighting is white, but this is to make a distinction between the modes of traffic and does not affect the safety or comfort. Paving on the Delhi cycle tracks is poured concrete with expansion joints every 2-3 meters. The expansion joints are not thick enough to cause discomfort in riding. The concrete means less maintenance and fewer potholes. Also, it adds a degree of permanence that Pune’s concrete pavers lack; future utilities will be less willing to pull up poured concrete. Bollards present a complex question when it comes to cycling comfort. In Delhi, most points of entry to the cycle tracks have bollards, made of precast concrete, stone or steel. Their purpose is to increase comfort by preventing cars and two-wheelers from entering the tracks, but their spacing is wide enough to accommodate a rickshaw, so they are not deterrents to two-wheelers. However,

Types of bollards on the Delhi cycle tracks


according to the designer, Sandeep Gandhi, the bollards become a deterrent to cyclists as well, especially as the traffic increases. Therefore, the city removed bollards in the southern segments with the highest cycle traffic. Because there is a critical mass of cyclists, there is no encroachment from cars, and any two-wheeler encroachment is negligible because they would move at the same speed as cyclists on the tracks. However, in areas where there is not a steady flow of cyclists, bollards remain, because they do not deter light cycle traffic, but they can prevent cars from encroaching. Finally, wayfinding along the Delhi BRT corridor is straightforward once one has found the cycle tracks. There is some signage along the tracks that indicate the track is for cyclists only. However, many entrances to the tracks, especially at large intersections, lack sufficient signage to indicate the presence of a cycle track. Overall, much of the 14.5km stretch lacks signage, which may be a factor in the underuse of the northernmost segments.

Administrative Factors The Delhi cycle tracks are a component of Route 4 / Phase 1 of a comprehensive BRT network project proposed by the Committee for Sustainable Transport in 2003. The committee included senior transport officials, Government of India Officials, and transport consultants from the private and academic sectors. The Government of Delhi (GNCTD) initiated the project, granting design and planning responsibilities to TRIPP (IIT) and RITES Ltd., Delhi. DIMTS: A limited Unified Metro Transport Authority GNCTD created a special organization, the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS), to implement the BRT system, as well as other public transportation projects in Delhi. DIMTS is an equal-equity joint venture organization formed between GNCTD and the IDFC, a not-forprofit organization that advocates for social responsibility, policy, and capacity building.31 DIMTS conducted several feasibility studies in 2004 for the GNCTD Transportation Department and was given responsibility for Operations and Management of the BRT corridor.32 31 32

DIMTS History. Also, foundation See appendix for the full list of stakeholders involved in the BRT Corridor design. 45

O&M responsibilities were comprehensive and included organization of the BRT itself, the implementation of the NMT tracks, repairs, traffic signals, lighting, horticulture, and public awareness campaigns.33 Although DIMTS answered in part to the Transportation Commissioner, this wide scope allowed it to control most facets of the project that would normally have fallen to disparate departments, like Transportation, Traffic Police, an NMT Cell, etc. Comprehensive control for DIMTS lead to a better coordination of systems along the corridor, particularly in the southern segments in the earliest phases (pre-Commonwealth Games). In these segments, DIMTS and its consultants had enough autonomy and uninterrupted control over the entire project to avoid the spatial conflicts found in Pune. Operations & Maintenance of the Corridor Operations and maintenance after the opening of the BRT corridor in April of 2008 benefitted from this autonomy, as well as the internal stability of DIMTS. The Managing Director of DIMTS has been the same for more than five years, allowing the organization to establish processes deeply enough to continue as control and priorities change at the top. Processes including the removal of debris from cycle tracks, the removal of hawkers, and the upkeep of lights and landscaping have been refined and implemented for enough time to ensure their relative permanence despite evolving politics and management. In addition, DIMTS offers value and stability to the BRT’s O&M because of its role in the design. The organization was involved from the first day of designs, giving it an element of ownership in the project. Those who operate the systems have had a say in how the systems work, thereby giving them more investment in them and ensuring dedicated upkeep. Such a relationship between design team and operations stands in stark contrast to Pune, where infrastructure was designed (or not designed at all) by one contractor, constructed by uninvolved builders via tender, and operated by uninvolved traffic police, road department officials, etc. DIMTS currently employs 50-60 staff members to maintain these BRT corridor O&M processes – a number some say is insufficient. However, it is enough to keep the cycle tracks useable (in the southern segments; the northern segments are more neglected), and ensure all systems are coordinated appropriately. Although Delhi has established an NMT cell within the GNCTD, it lacks the staff, experience and project ownership to exercise any influence over the existing pedestrian or cycle tracks. The authority and autonomy of the DIMTS therefore renders the cell redundant with respect to the city’s cycle tracks. 33

See DIMTS website:


Cultural Factors Between 5-7% of all trips made in Delhi are by cycle today.34 Most of these cyclists are captive riders, and the designers of the cycle tracks targeted this group as a base on which to build. The objective was to tailor the cycling network to these users first to keep them on cycles because of comfort and convenience, even if their income afforded them something more. Infrastructure built for these users could then leveraged to promote cycling among students and hobby riders.35 Priorities by Rider Type The priorities for captive riders differ from recreational riders. Safety is less of a priority; they will cycle despite heavy or mixed traffic and unsafe intersections. However, captive users have a low tolerance for indirectness. They will prefer to cycle in the main carriageway if a cycle track goes out of their way, even if only for a block. Thus a cycle track will be ignored unless it links their origins and their destinations in a direct manner. For this reason, the designers chose to implement segregated cycle tracks only on arterials, because most destinations in Delhi for captive users (certain commercial centers, large employers like hospitals, etc.) are accessed from arterial streets. However, designers in Delhi found that recreational and “potential” riders prioritize safe conditions over directness. They will not cycle unless they feel safe on a particular route. When this user is targeted – often in environments where most riding is for recreation, like in the United States – cycle tracks removed from arterials and congested areas is preferred. The routes do not have to be direct, but users must perceive a certain level of safety and comfort. Converting Potential Riders The designers hoped that providing safe and efficient infrastructure for captive riders would also encourage other potential riders to choose cycling over other transportation modes. According to a 2006 survey, 48% of Delhi bus riders walk between 0.5-1.0 km to access public transportation, and 7% of bus commuters have a total trip length of less than 5 km. These commuters have strong potential to convert to cycling if they have access to safe and direct cycle tracks. DIMTS and advocacy groups began cycling campaigns and rallies to promote awareness of the cycle tracks and to show these potential riders that the tracks are for everyone.36

Tiwari. Planning for Non-Motorized Transport in Cities. 2010. Interview with Sandeep Gandhi, principle designer of the BRT corridor, on 12/8/12. The Delhi Cycling Club, for example, organized weekly and monthly rides/rallies around various parts of the city. (ITDP India. Cycle Rickshaw & Cycling Advocacy in Delhi. October, 2008.

34 35 36


The Importance of Critical Mass Most of the promotions and awareness campaigns began around the opening of the southernmost 5.8 km of the BRT corridor in May of 2008. The goal was to achieve a critical mass of riders on the cycle tracks early on to condition both cyclists and others that the cycle tracks were for cycles, rather than parking, hawkers, two-wheelers, etc. These campaigns were largely successful in that they established enough regular cyclists on these segments of the tracks to prevent most encroachment, and during peak times, there are as many as 2000 riders per hour.37

Cycling rallies organized by the DIMTS

However, reminders of the importance of maintaining this critical mass occur every day. Captive cyclists often begin their days and commutes earlier than other, faster modes used by more affluent demographics. This means that in the morning, the cycle tracks are full of riders, which discourages their use by two wheelers. As the surge dies down later in the morning, more two-wheelers occupy the cycle tracks because of heavier traffic on the main carriageway. If the rate of cyclists on the tracks drops below a certain level, then the two-wheelers might increase their speeds on the tracks, discouraging other cyclists. Therefore, the competing volumes of cyclists and two-wheelers on the cycle tracks can have a self-reinforcing positive or negative effect, underscoring the need to maintain high levels of cyclists during commuting hours (and/or effectively enforcing proper track use). The same principles hold for the maintenance of the cycle tracks.

37 According to a report by the DIMTS, however, awareness campaigns would have been more effective had they started several months before the opening, and perhaps should have targeted younger demographics like students. (DIMTS. Delhi BRT System- Lessons Learnt. p11.


Critical mass of cyclists on the southernmost segment in Delhi. Note that the presence of enough cyclists neutralizes the negative effects of encroachment by the two-wheelers. Photo courtesy of DIMTS.

Learning from Delhi: Design Factors -

CRITICAL MASS. The best - and possibly the only - way to ensure cycle infrastructure (tracks, bike boxes, parking, etc.) will be respected by other modes of transportation is if there is enough cycle traffic to sufficiently occupy the spaces. Maintaining a critical mass will provide additional safety and deter encroachment from two-wheelers, automobiles, hawkers, pedestrians and parking. The critical number may depend on the location and design of the tracks, but 200 cyclists per hour in each direction is a baseline for maintaining a presence. Especially a few months before the opening of a project, it is essential to coordinate public awareness, rallies, rides, and other events to establish an initial mass of riders on the tracks.


COMPETITION. Rather than only focusing on segregating cycle tracks, planners need to recognize the entire road as a complete system of interrelated transportation modes. Without lane discipline as part of the road culture, one should assume each designated space – main carriageway, a bus lane, cycle track, or pedestrian path – will be in competition with each other for users.


If a cycle track is more attractive than the main carriage way to a two-wheeler (because it is faster, wider, or has less traffic, for example), then the rider will choose the cycle track over the carriageway. Similarly, if the cycle track has too many obstructions, pedestrians, or other encroachments, then a cyclist will choose the smoother carriageway over then cycle track. If a pedestrian path is regularly occupied by parking, hawkers, or trees, then pedestrians will choose to walk in the carriageway or the cycle track, both of which are less safe, but also have fewer obstructions. On the larger scale, if cycling is more convenient than taking the bus, then a bus rider will become a cyclist. This means that both the design and the occupancy of all other spaces affect the cycling infrastructure as much as the cycling infrastructure itself. Given the various desired speeds, comfort levels, and safety tolerances for each mode of transportation, all lanes of the road must be carefully designed (or re-designed) to meet the specific needs of the intended users. -

USER PROFILES: It is important to select target users because design priorities differ. Captive riders – labor-class cycle commuters – have a high tolerance for unsafe riding conditions and inconvenience and a low tolerance for indirectness and efficiency. Potential commuters – those who don’t cycle, but might given the right conditions – are more tolerant of slightly indirect routes, but intolerant of unsafe conditions. Hobby cyclists – those who ride for pleasure, rather than commuting – prioritize comfort and speed, and have a low tolerance for inconvenience and unsafe riding conditions. In Delhi, planners concentrated on serving the needs of captive users first, under the theory that other groups would join as they perceived higher safety and convenience in cycling. For example, cycle tracks were implemented only on the main arterials, because most destinations (hospitals, bus stands, schools, etc.) have access to these major routes. Had tracks been designed on quieter streets, they would not have been used because captive users would cycle with motorized traffic over taking an indirect route.38


- From interview with Sandeep Gandhi, formerly of TRIPP, on 21 August, 2012.


Administrative Factors -

Alternative to an NMT Cell: UMTA = Unified Municipal Transportation Authority allows total control over the entire street, including NMT. This is consistent with the Competition principle of design, and the complete authority of the UMTA avoids conflicts and complications between various departments (sits above the individual departments or its projects don’t overlap with theirs). In Delhi, the UMTA was DIMTS.


Stability at the top: DIMTS has a long-tenured Managing Director who was able to establish processes with regard to the BRT corridor and the NMT routes. This means that if a new director comes in who is averse to NMT, the O&M processes are already in place, allowing consistency between personnel.


OWNERSHIP: DIMTS had input on the design from the beginning, making the department much more likely to claim ownership and responsibility for the project.


Contractors – need experience with NMT. Need to make it a capacity building exercise to develop repertoire.


DEPARTMENT COORDINATION THROUGH DESIGN: Allotting space for all required systems on the road in the initial stage can help avoid “official” encroachments (lamp posts, landscaping, drainpipes, electrical conduits, bus stops, etc.) on NMT infrastructure. If there is a prescribed strip for lamp posts.

Cultural Factors -

Coordinate public-awareness campaigns to coordinate with the opening of large projects to help achieve a critical mass of riders as early as possible.


Public-awareness campaigns should begin several months before the official opening of the new infrastructure.


IV. Strategies for the Design and Implementation of Successful Cycling Infrastructure in India

Critical mass is the most important factor to establish control over new cycle tracks. Photo courtesy of DIMTS.

The following suggestions are intended to address three larger (and interrelated) strategies for successful cycling infrastructure and increased ridership: 1. A critical mass or riders that establishes ownership of the cycling infrastructure by cyclists.

2. Mode-specific design of all road spaces based on the relative attractiveness to of different lanes of traffic to users of each mode (Principle of Relative Attractiveness).

3. Long-term control over a cycling project’s proper design, implementation and maintenance that ensures reliability and functionality.


Many of the strategies are interrelated, and a solution to a design problem may be effective only as part of a comprehensive solution to address related administrative and cultural problems as well. Furthermore, because of the importance on achieving a critical mass of cyclists, many of these strategies must be carefully coordinated within a project to achieve this as quickly as possible. Design examples are taken from a proposal for a new cycle network in the city of Mysore.

Design Strategies 1. Design of new infrastructure depends on varying priorities for different user groups. The case studies have shown that different groups of riders have different priorities. Cyclists will only use new infrastructure if it meets their requirements. In general, Captive users demand directness and efficiency; they will not use a cycle track if it redirects their route even a small amount or extends their commute time. Safety is not a significant factor in their choice of route. These priorities extend to access on and off the track. Unless there is easy and visible access, then they will stay on the carriageway, and the design of the track must allow exits onto connecting streets and properties as needed. The upshot of these priorities is that a cycling network must be designed specifically to the existing routes and desire lines of captive riders (assuming this is the most significant demographic of cyclists in the city). Main arterials and faster-moving roads that connect their neighborhoods with city centers typically carry the most cyclists, and these should be the ones with the highest design priority.

Example: Desire lines, common origins, and destinations of captive riders in Mysore.


Alternatively, other potential riders prioritize safety and comfort over directness and efficiency to varying degrees. Sport and recreational riders, who make up a small but growing demographic in some cities, will choose routes or lanes only if they are comfortable and safe. Non-captive commuters, also rare but with high potential for growth, have priorities between the two extremes: they will cycle only if there is a reasonably efficient route to get from A to B, but only if there is a minimum threshold of safety. Ideally, new cycling infrastructure should be direct, efficient, safe and comfortable. However, the priorities of expected user groups must be considered, particularly in the phasing of a large-scale cycling network.

2. Unsafe, inefficient, and/or uncomfortable cycling infrastructure lacking proper lighting, drainage, paving, etc. deters use by both captive and potential riders. Perception of directness, efficiency, safety and comfort is key. Existing riders will only use cycle infrastructure if it is a better alternative to riding on the road, and potential riders will only make the switch if it is a better (and safer) alternative to driving a car, two-wheeler, public transportation, or walking. Design solutions must therefore address both the large scales (directness, efficiency and connectivity) and small scales (safety and comfort). In most all Indian cities, the vast majority of cyclists are captive riders, and in most cases, this is a large enough group to focus on to initially establish a critical mass of cyclists. Projects therefore must be designed first for the priorities of this demographic: directness and efficiency.

Directness, Efficiency & Connectivity Directness must be carried out on all scales. On the city scale, the first cycle tracks should focus on the routes that see the heaviest cycling traffic, typically extending from high-density working-class neighborhoods to common destinations for those captive riders, such as markets and city centers.


Top: Primary (pilot) phase of cycle network in Mysore. Segments are based on the desire lines and priorities of captive users. Middle: Phase II of cycle network in Mysore Bottom: Phase II of cycle network in Mysore

Secondary phases of a cycle network should then reinforce those first routes to build up to a critical mass. That is, routes should be chosen to create more captive-user traffic on a few key connections as the project grows. This may be done by connecting other captive-user neighborhoods to the primary routes. Tertiary phases of the network should continue to increase ridership on these primary routes by making them more useful. This may be done by making connections and shortcuts within the existing network.


On a smaller scale, directness can be increased to a huge degree over existing roads by implementing bi-directional cycle tracks on both sides of the road. Not only does this increase safety, as many captive riders routinely cycle against traffic, but prevents many street crossings and opens2.8m up other3.2m one-way routes.9.1m To be bi-directional, the width of11.3m a cycle track should3.2m be at least 2.7m sidewalk


angled parking




angled parking


2.5m cycle track

3.6m sidewalk

33.2m overall


2.8m sidewalk

2.5m 2.25m cycle .75m parallel track parking

6.5m carriageway

7.0m carriageway


33.2m overall

Example: Typical proposed street plan in Mysore with bi-directionsal paths on each side.


3.2m angled parking


Directness must also be evident on the street scale. If cycle tracks stray from the main desire lines of captive riders, then they will not be used and become vulnerable to encroachment. For the same reason, access to tracks at intersections must be as easy as accessing the main carriageway for cyclists.

Safety Safety, while not top priorities of captive riders, is important as both a secondary reason for them to use new infrastructure and to attract new commuters and recreational riders. Many examples and details for safe cycle track design are available in guides like NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, and should be followed. The NACTO guide offers details for proper intersections, drainage, lighting, and obstructions like bus stops. However, the priorities of captive users must be strongly considered in Indian cycling projects, especially in terms of access at intersections. This is because achieving and maintaining a critical mass is the best way to ensure cyclist safety on the roads, as numerous studies have shown.39

Mandatory bicycle helmet laws have counterintuitively been shown to make cycling in cities less safe because they deter a significant number of potential cyclists whose presence would make the roads safer on the whole. De Jong, Piet. The Health Impact of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Laws. Risk Analysis. 2012.




parking 28.8m overall



A - Proposed

more attractive when all things are equal, and by attracting potential users. The most important A - Proposed



Comfort is also not a priority for captive riders, but can increase ridership by making cycle tracks factor in comfort is cycle track width. There should be enough room for at least two cycles abreast (2m wide), preferably three for overtaking (2.5m wide). This allows cycle tracks on both sides of an 4.3m


cycle sidewalk arterial to be bi-directional, increasing directness. track

2.4m 1m bike bike parking

3.0m car lane

3.0m car lane

1m bike

2.4m bike parking

2.5m cycle track

6.4m sidewalk

28.8m overall

Other obvious strategies include avoiding existing trees and eliminating obstructions like lamp

shops shops

Trees in the cycle tracks, Pune.



posts, bus stops, man holes, and drainage grates from the cycle tracks.

Strategy to avoid trees in Mysore

The choice of paving is key in preserving cycling comfort. Poured concrete paving with control lines is the best choice because it requires little maintenance and stays smooth while ensuring proper drainage. If this option proves too expensive, bitumen asphalt is a viable alternative, but requires more maintenance and is prone to potholes, tree roots, etc. Concrete (or other) pavers should be avoided because of they provide a less comfortable ride. In projects where there is little coordination between departments, pavers are also more inviting to spontaneous uprooting for the sake of other utilities.

Bad paving: tiles/bricks

Better paving: bitumen asphalt


Best paving: poured concrete

3. Infrastructure is too inviting for cars, parking, scooters, pedestrians and hawkers. The design of cycle infrastructure must rely on mode-specific design and acknowledge the principle of relative attractiveness. If a cycle track is moving faster or more smoothly than the space for two-wheelers or cars, then those motorized vehicles will attempt to use the cycle track. This can be remedied in two ways (preferably both). 1. Make the cycle track less attractive to motorized vehicles. The best and self-regulating strategy for this is to maintain a critical mass of cyclists. Then, even if two-wheelers or

cars encroach on the cycle tracks, they will not be able to move faster than cycle traffic, eliminating the safety and comfort hazards.

In the absence of a critical mass, cars can be deterred by narrow lanes (less than 2.5m wide) and/or bollards. However, cycle tracks should be at least 2m wide, preferably 2.5 when bi-directional. A single bollard at the center at each intersection/entrance can prevent cars form entering and help establish the tracks’ bi-directionality. Important: Once a critical mass of cyclists has been achieved, bollards should be removed, as they begin to deter cyclists at this point. On particularly sensitive routes, removable bollards may be installed and removed only during peak traffic hours.



shops 4.3m sidewalk

2.5m bike parking

6.6m carriageway

6.9m carriageway

2.2m bike parking

6.4m sidewalk


A - Exist A - Exist


A - Exist



Example: an entrance with a single, removable bollard 28.8m overallfor peak times

A - Exist

2. Make road space more traffic. Two-wheelers are the 2.5m 6.6m attractive to other 6.9mmotorized 2.2m 4.3m other 6.4m sidewalk







most likelyparking vehicles to encroach on motorized traffic because they enjoy the same physical parking access as cycles. However, based on28.8m theoverall Principle of Relative Attractiveness, they will not


encroach if another lane of travel is more inviting, because it is faster, more direct and/or

4.3m sidewalk

2.5m cycle track

2.4m 1m bike bike parking

3.0m car lane

3.0m car lane

1m bike

2.4m bike parking

2.5m cycle track

6.4m sidewalk

1m bike

2.4m bike parking

2.5m cycle track

6.4m sidewalk



wheeler specific lane that will move faster than cycle traffic and is protected from cars.

28.8m overall

4.3m sidewalk

2.5m cycle track

2.4m 1m bike bike parking

3.0m car lane

3.0m car lane


28.8m overall


Example: Proposal for a dedicated two-wheeler lane that a) moves faster than cars in heavy traffic, and b) is too narrow for car encroachment, making it a preferable alternative to encroachment of the cycle tracks, which are separated by parking.





Proposed Proposed




comfortable. Therefore, a supplemental solution to encroachment is to implement a two-

4. Infrastructure is unusable by Indian-specific NMT vehicles like cycle rickshaws. If cycle rickshaws or other NMT modes are used in a given city, projects should incorporate their physical requirements into cycle track design. For example, the best-used tracks in Delhi are designed to be wide enough to allow two local rickshaws to pass each other (3m).

In addition, at key intersections, transportation hubs and other high-traffic areas, space for rickshaw waiting should be designed into the project to prevent backups. Detail from Delhi design standards. Figure 8: Detail cross section of cycle track entry at (on the off side of) junction.

Not only do rickshaws, tangas and other NMT modes offer alternatives to motorized traffic, but their presence on cycling tracks can also help make cycle tracks much less attractive to potential encroachers.

Administrative Strategies The structure, composition, and processes ofFigure governing bodies that oversee the implementation of 9: Detail elevation of cycle track entry at (on the off side of) junction. cycling infrastructure have a great effect on its success. 5. Lack of official leadership and/or effective organizing bodies prevent consistent and comprehensive design and implementation.


The organization of municipal corporations and transportation departments varies widely between Indian cities. However, the successful implementation of comprehensive and usable cycling infrastructure depends on effective leadership and coordination. Cycle projects in Pune were undermined because of a lack of coordination between city departments. There are two solutions that might prevent these problems. 1. An autonomous NMT cell within the municipal corporation with full responsibility and jurisdiction over the NMT infrastructure could have the necessary power to properly design, construct and maintain a cycle network. This cell would need to be structured with


sufficient decision-making power, as well as a leader who supports the expansion of NMT. Critical points include: •

The NMT cell must have decision-making power by organization: it should include the heads from all relevant departments (road, traffic, bus, garden, etc.).

The NMT cell needs strong leadership by a relatively high-ranking commissioner who can call meetings and make decisions.

The NMT cell must include the participation of all wards or sub-sections of the city to resolve responsibility of NMT projects if those wards have decision-making power or responsibility over roads and infrastructure.

The NMT should involve the voluntary participation of cycle interest groups and experienced urban designers.

2. A Unified Metro Transit Authority could provide the autonomy and longevity to ensure a cycle project is properly designed, executed and maintained. The UMTA functions outside the municipal corporation and elected bodies, but works with it and the city departments. The Department for Urban Land Transport, run by the state of Karnataka is an example of a UMTA, for example. UMTA is only applicable and effective if it has a mandate for (and therefore control over) the development of an entire arterial or corridor network, like the BRT corridor in Delhi. Such an arrangement is commissioned by the state and/or city governments, and typically grants long-term rights and maintenance duties to the UMTA. A major benefit of a UMTA-run cycling project is that it is part of a complete street (re)design project. The autonomy allows total control over the entire street, including NMT. This is consistent with the Principle of Relative Attractiveness, meaning the designers can ensure each lane of movement is tailored to its specific intended users. In addition, a UMTA avoids conflicts and complications between various departments. Intersections and other overlapping lanes and systems are designed from scratch, rather than retrofitted into an existing system. Any utilities, repairs, or other systems that overlap with UMTA-controlled spaces would be commissioned, or at least coordinated, with the UMTA at the top, ensuring consistency and preventing conflicts.


Finally, a UMTA has enough long-term control over a corridor network that it can establish operations and maintenance practices to ensure proper functioning of the complete corridors, including the cycle infrastructure. For example, in Delhi, the UMTA, DIMTS, has a long-tenured Managing Director who was able to establish processes with regard to the BRT corridor and the NMT routes. “Ownership” of the routes by DIMTS gave it a better understanding of its needs and incentive to keep them running smoothly. These did not need to be approved or tendered by the municipal corporation. Also, if a new director comes in who is averse to NMT, the O&M processes are already in place, allowing consistency between personnel. Either an NMT cell of a UMTA would be instrumental in ensuring the proper implementation of successful cycling infrastructure. However, the scope, size and needs of the city would likely determine which would be a better organization to oversee the project.

6. Design and expert reviews not integrated into project development prevent proper coordination of systems. As Pune’s case illustrated, poor design can result in the absence of qualified designers, and can result in unused cycle tracks and large amounts wasted public funds. A simple and obvious strategy is for the governing body of any cycle project to require the involvement of a qualified urban/ cycling designer on any and all tenders. In addition, a panel of urban designers should be required to sign off on any projects (e.g. bus stop construction) that affect the smooth operations of a cycle network. 8. Absence of policy to protect cyclists and a passive enforcement of traffic laws threatens the safety and usability of new cycling infrastructure. When new cycling infrastructure is built, it needs to be actively protected for cyclist use only, lest it be occupied by hawkers, pedestrians and motorists. Although good design can minimize the need for protection, cyclists still depend on external forces, either enforcement or road culture, to ride unencumbered and unobstructed. City officials cite understaffing as the reason there is little safety enforcement on the road, let alone to protect cyclists or pedestrians. However, there also needs to be basic road laws in place before enforcement becomes part of the solution.


1. Minimum policy requirements to protect new infrastructure and cyclists on the roads. Many of these basic statutes are accepted as common sense in cycle-friendly cities around the world.40 1. Cities must recognize cyclists as having equal rights and responsibilities the road. 2. Any cycling-specific infrastructure (tracks, lanes, bike boxes, parking, etc.) must be protected from encroachment by other motorized vehicles. Particularly, it must be illegal for two-wheelers to ride on cycle tracks and for anyone, including cycles, to park on cycling infrastructure. Penalties for encroachment must be explicit. 3. It must be illegal for anyone to dump, vend, hawk, or occupy lanes intended for cyclists. 4. Explicit minimum penalties must be passed for motorists injuring or killing cyclists on the road through fault of their own. 5. Other, less critical laws that are beneficial to all users of the road and that can make the road a safer place include: the left side of the road should be reserved for cyclists in the absence of a cycle track; cyclists cannot ride more than two abreast on the main carriageway; cyclists must use hand signals when turning; pedestrians have the right-ofway over everyone, including cyclists, except on the cycle tracks; cycles must have lights or reflectors at night. 2. Enforcement can and should be used strategically to shape and encourage a bicycling culture by preserving infrastructure for bicyclists. This is true especially at the opening of a new project. In order to achieve critical mass, cyclists must have the perception that their space will be protected, and enforcement is essential in the time leading up to a critical number of cyclists. Likewise, lack of enforcement in the beginning can allow encroachment to stifle cycle growth on some routes. Therefore, special efforts in enforcement must be applied judiciously in the first few months of a project’s opening. In response to the claim that there are not enough officials to enforce the traffic laws, cities rarely employ enough traffic officials to cover all infractions. Rather, a few officials can enforce infractions they see randomly. The show of enforcement, as well as the demonstrated possibility that one could get caught, is enough to persuade most to follow the law, thereby creating a more disciplined culture. Indian cities have been able to force most bikers to wear helmets in this way, with unscheduled roadside checks. Traffic officials must do the same on new cycling tracks to signify to potential encroachers that cycling laws will be enforced. This is best done with a combination of public-



For example, Bicycle laws in Germany:


awareness signs and posters at the entrances to the cycling tracks, combined with random checks (not stationary outposts) with traffic police patrolling the tracks. This would require little manpower, especially once the number of cyclists grows to a critical mass, but still achieve the desired result of protecting cycling infrastructure for the future.

Cultural Strategies Indian road culture and the perception of cycling in cities has a significant effect on the number and type of riders on the roads, which in turn has an effect on the usability and safety of cycling infrastructure. 9. Cycling stigma and respect for cyclists on the road inhibit popularity as a mode of transportation. This is likely the largest obstacle for building a cycling culture in India. Pune has begun to chip away at the stigma by slowly growing a core of dedicated recreational cyclists and advocates. These cyclists come from middle-to-upper classes and have formed clubs, group rides, races and other events to promote cycling as not just a way to get around. The core is effective because creates an example at the top of the socioeconomic ladder that other potential riders can look up to, rather than down upon. Therefore, while cities can look to improved infrastructure to maintain ridership as captive riders become less captive, they can look to recreational groups like this to introduce others to cycling who were never forced to because of financial reasons.


This is not to advocate social stratification among cyclists, but rather to acknowledge there must be role models that cycle for all demographics represented in the city to draw more to the mode of transportation.

A cycle mall in Pune that offers inported, high-end cycles organizes group rides to promote cycling.

Scheduled group rides, like those in Pune are essential for solidifying a base of recreational rides, and cities should work with activists to promote these rides. Perhaps the best example of activists and a city working together to promote cycling and awareness is in Mexico City, where since 2007 the city’s largest avenue, the Avenida Reforma, has been closed off to everyone except cyclists on Sundays. Combined with a public bike share system, cycling has grown dramatically, with more than 10,000 riders participating weekly. Once a month, a 20-mile circuit is closed for cyclists, often drawing as many as 70,000 cyclists.41


Ellingwood, Ken. Take the Lane: Mexico City’s Sunday Cycling. The Los Angeles Times. 21 September, 2012.


Cycling Sundays on Mexico’s largest avenue, where onyl cycles are allowed for a few hours each week to promote cycling. Photo: Ashle Fauvre

Like with enforcement, a multi-pronged approach, with group rides, road closures, and permanent signs instructing motorists to respect cyclists, stay off of cycling tracks, etc. will help remove the stigma more quickly and firmly, as it has in places like Mexico.42

10. Encroachment and lack of discipline in Indian road culture threaten the safety and usability of cycle infrastructure. As shown in Delhi and emphasized before, the best solution to encroachment is to occupy cycling infrastructure with a critical mass of cyclists. Enforcement (see above) can help establish control early on, as cyclists grow accustomed to new networks. However, this problem is interrelated with the social-stigma problem and the enforcement problem, and is likely to change only with concerted efforts on both fronts. From a project and design standpoint, the best strategy is to launch a multi-pronged approach to consolidate a critical mass of cyclists as quickly as possible.

11. Lack of access to cycles for various groups prevents potential riders from cycling. One of the reasons recreational cycling has grown in popularity in Pune is the presence of a highend cycling shop that provides cycles tailored to the needs and budget of recreational cycles. These cycles are typically imported from the United States and Europe, and feature multiple gears, shock absorption, and lighter frames. As in other countries, these high-tech cycles contribute to the “fun” factor of cycling, and can help draw in wealthier potential riders who wish to avoid the stigma of cycling. 42

de Los Reyes, Ignacio. Mexico City’s Bike Revolution. BBC Mundo. 20 February, 2012.


City, state and national governments can encourage recreational cycling by facilitating the sales of these bikes. This includes eliminating import and excise taxes on all bicycles, tariffs, and other financial disincentives to selling these cycles. For example, Pune has eliminated a city tax on foreign bicycle sales. In addition, it is in the national government’s best interest to subsidize and incentivize the research and design of high-tech models of cycles from major domestic manufacturers (Hero, Atlas, etc.). These brands are beginning to offer certain new features, but inexpensive, domestically available recreational cycles designed for middle-to-upper-class riders will be essential from a transportation and economic standpoint in the future.

12. Low public awareness of health and environmental benefits deters the growth of cycling in some demographics. One of the primary reasons people adopt cycling as a means of transportation or recreation if for its health benefits. In Copenhagen, 19% of cyclists cite fitness as the primary reason they cycle. As gym membership and an awareness of fitness has exploded in India in the past decade, cities and cycling advocates should take advantage of this nascent but growing trend. Public awareness can take the form of signs, billboards and events like group rides. Much of a campaign linking cycles to health can be privatized; gyms and cycle shops can pair up, as combining commuting with a fitness regimen can save time and money. Group rides, sponsored races, and other recreational activities are also good ways to show people the health benefits of cycling, and to get fitness buffs on cycles. Activists and government officials in Pune have identified students as a good way extend this public awareness, as young people already cycle at high rates and will make up the majority of future cyclists. Incorporating cycling education (safe practices, rules of the road, etc.) into a physical education curriculum would help ensure the growth of a cycling culture. Pune also considered other incentives, including offering free or discounted cycles to middle or high-school students if they rode to school. Such programs could work and provide much-needed incentive to cycle at ages when students are beginning to make transitions to two-wheelers. Pune’s programs would have focused on indigent students, but because of the cultural incentive to transition to motorized vehicles, it may be just as productive to subsidize cycles for all children. If only indigent children are given cycles, then that would reinforce the future stigma of the cycle as only transportation for the poor.


V. Conclusion

All of these strategies are small pieces of a successful cycling network project in India. There are many challenges to such a project; at the time of writing, there is no city with model cycling infrastructure. Given these challenges, these design, administrative, and cultural strategies must be taken in concert. If one category is ignored, it could mean the difference between success and a huge waste of public funds. If critical strategy falls short, it could mean not achieving critical mass, which could mean the infrastructure being overtaken by other modes. Mode-specific design of a complete street can help to curb this, but not without additional attention to cultural challenges. Finally, city governments need to build into each project proper oversight and long-term control. Without this, the operations and maintenance will break down over time, even if there is sufficient ridership.


Cycling india swain IRT  

Report of Cycling Infrastructure Challenges in India

Cycling india swain IRT  

Report of Cycling Infrastructure Challenges in India