Thanks to everyone who gave an intro on this post- if you haven’t already, please do! I love hearing from you!
I just finished Winter quarter and I am now officially on Spring Break! Now that I have some downtime, I have to hurry and plan my 2-3 week research trip to Mumbai & Delhi this June. I’m going to be looking at the urban form and urban use across class strata in both cities, but I would like to check out any urban
and Bollywood related things that I can!
Any suggestions of what I should check out/investigate/experience/blog about while I’m there?
Making Room for Delhi’s Bicycle Culture
Once upon a time, blogger Magali Mander says, Delhi used to have separate lanes for cyclists. But then, “the space was taken over by cars and planning was taken over by those who thought a modern city needed wide streets for cars rather than lanes for its inhabitants to walk on, or ride on their bikes.” Clearly, non-motorized transport needs to be prioritized in Indian cities, whether by constructing shaded walkways, elevated bike paths, or safer and well-maintained pavements.
The management and monitoring of a bicycle share program would likely be difficult in a city as large as Delhi. But there are perhaps lessons that can be drawn from the existing rickshaw sharing and rental industry. It would require city-wide infrastructure changes, such as installing bike racks, as well as educational outreach, like promoting road safety. It is also perhaps not something that can easily be afforded by the local government who are now tasked with many responsibilities. Distances that people travel in the city are often not short, but having cycle share systems that feed into the subway could be important.
Additionally, bike riding is not convenient to everyone; women in sarees for instance are unlikely to cycle, and people that are elderly, disabled and handicapped once again become excluded from the cycling program. Cultural norms exist and would have to be challenged. An extremely targeted but affordable scheme could form part of an entire package aimed at improving public health and mobility, with improvements to lighting, pavements and segregated cycle lanes.
There are also external inconveniences to consider—the sun, the dust in eyes—which means educating the public about wearing helmets or protective visors. Biking would need to come with a slew of its own ammenities to ensure safety, but it would be in the interest of the city and its overall health.
A cycle share program would have to be largely seasonal because in the summer, cycling is uncomfortable in the summer heat, as well as during the rains. But elevated bike routes and walking paths constructed with shading are a possible solution. Clearly, architects, planners and policymakers need to be in a dialogue with city’s citizens to explore these opportunities.
Interesting points on the difficulties of sharing good planning solutions across cultures and environments.