Inside World’s No.1 Cycling City Report 2020
The number of cycles in Amsterdam is equal to the population of this city, that is 8,50,000 I feel like our country can learn a lot about urban planning from this city the infrastructure that they have built up for cycling and have freed the city from cars How have they been able to do that? And can we do this in our country and our cities? Come, let us see 75% of the students in the city use cycles everyday while commuting to school And talking in general, only 19% of the people living here use cars The area of the entire city is around 200 square kilometers And the cycling tracks that have been laid down in the city are more than 400 square kilometers What is surprising is that the city wasn’t always like this.
In the 1950s and 1960s when there was an economic boom, then the cars had started to get popular The government decided to demolish buildings to make space for roads so that cars could ply on them when this work was ongoing and the government was making space for the cars and constructing roads In 1950, the cycling usage in Amsterdam was at 80% But by the time the 1970s arrived, it fell to a mere 20%, Along with the increased popularity of cars, traffic accidents also increased They increased to such an extent that the year of 1971 was the peak year of traffic accidents in Amsterdam That year, more than 3,300 people were killed in road accidents within a span of one year out of which, more than 400 were children And then, a miracle happened in the 1970s.
The people slowly started realizing how detrimental these cars were for their city A civil disobedience movement was started A movement, the name of which was, “Stop de Kindermoord” If you translate it, it would mean, stop the murder of the children because so many children were being killed daily in traffic accidents In this movement, the people started organizing rallies in the 1970s They started protesting in different ways. You can see the type of protests in the photos Huge rallies of cycles were organized Had this happened in our country,
the police would have lathi-charged upon them But here the police was quite understanding The police supported them because they understood that they were protesting for the city’s good The politicians here too, they looked into this problem and heard the voices of the people, accepted the problem And gradually, they too conceded that this was indeed a problem and they should take some action against it This movement was even subsidized by the government a few years later Such was the support shown by the politicians too, for this movement! There was a huge oil crisis in 1973
The petrol prices increased by 4 times due to the oil crisis So it became even more difficult for people to afford cars So after 1973, the politicians pushed the people strongly A movement was kick-started to exhort people to leave cars and use cycles instead So there was this activism on one hand that was contributing towards this And on the other hand, there was this oil crisis which further forced people to quit cars and focus on cycles The government started this process of transition with car free Sundays Earlier, cars were restricted only on Sundays Later, they started laying cycle tracks all over the city.
They were painted in red color And later, they also realized that laying one or two-cycle tracks is going to yield nothing They needed to lay a network of cycle tracks in order to motivate people If one had to commute from any point in the city to another, then there should be a cycle track to reach there It should not be that tracks are laid on only one or two main roads So they laid cycle tracks on a lot of roads And then gradually, block by block they started restricting cars As of 2019, even today, the government is constantly looking for newer ways to promote cycles and restrict cars, For example, making parking spots costlier so that people reduce the use of cars if car parking becomes costlier, For example, completely banning cars block by block Laying down newer tracks for cycles, For example, public transportation.
They have a new plan for the future that public transport usage is completely free for children younger than 12 years So that right from the childhood the children are taught to use public transport over cars and use cycles In most of the cities, there is an underground parking spot for cars But in Amsterdam city, you would find an underground parking for cycles and that too, multi decker Look, where they can park their cycle And all pf this parking for cycling is all over the city in different places and is completely free for the people.
I’ve criticized cars so much here that it might have come to your mind that it must be hell to have to drive through Amsterdam and everyone must hate driving here But it is not so In fact,
The reality Of Driving car is in Amsterdam is the complete opposite
Driving Satisfaction Index
DSI is an index that measures how safe people feel and how happy they are while driving, and what is the quality of driving You’d be surprised to know which country is rank 1 is in the Driving Satisfaction Index Netherlands– the people in Amsterdam and the drivers are the happiest in the world Its surprising, isn’t it? that how the government here is trying to make the roads narrower, restrict the cars, promote cycles But despite that the people here are happy while driving.
How Is That Possible?
There is a simple reason behind this- Traffic It is always fun to drive if no one else is driving at that time If the roads are narrower and there is only one lane, and fewer people are driving, then the ones driving cars would enjoy doing it This is the reason why the drivers here are so happy Accidents are also few and maybe, if I draw its comparison, then Delhi’s odd-even rule I had heard from a lot of people during this rule that… Do you know what they like the most about this rule? That the roads are empty while driving.
The traffic is minimal You can apply the same logic here When the roads are empty and traffic is minimal, then the people enjoy driving more The biggest question that arises here is whether Indian cities can draw inspiration from this? The people of Amsterdam had their eyes opened when more than 3000 of its people were killed in road accidents in the span of one year
Do You Know What The Condition In India Is?
More than 1.5 lakh people only in 2018, over the span of one year, have been killed in road accidents But who amongst us cares? Right now, if you raise an issue of a temple then thousands of people would be ready to riot But lakhs of people get killed in road accidents every year- yet no one cares. But coming to the point, if we have to apply this in India, then how can it be done? When you think about laying cycling tracks and reducing cars in India, then I’ve seen that there are three major issues that arise in people’s minds The first argument: India’s population is humongous. Things like these befit a European country But there are so many people in India, there is no space on the roads, we don’t get space to drive cars on roads Where would we lay down the cycling tracks? Let us now look at the facts The fact is that the space required for the parking of one car 10 cycles can be parked in that space Scientific research tells us that in a car lane, 1600 people can bypass per hour And if the same lane is converted into a cycling lane, then 7,500 people can bypass in it in an hour So do you understand? If you convert a car lane into a cycling lane, then five times more people could travel through it Look at another graphic If we have an area large enough for five car lanes and two footpath lanes Then around 12,300 people can pass by per hour But if you remove four out of the five-car lanes, and if you lay down two bike lanes, a bus lane, and an extra footpath, then the capacity increases almost three times up to 30,000 people Do you understand the logic? If our population is more, then it makes even more sense that we reduce car lanes and make cycling tracks So that more people can pass through and the population can be accommodated Obviously, the biggest challenge that would arise in Indian cities is that while constructing cycling lanes they would need to be separated from the car lanes, barricades would have to be put in between It could also be done the way it is done in Amsterdam- trees have been grown in between So that cars cannot enter the cycling lane and the cyclists feel safe being separate from the cars And since there are a lot of illegal works done in India, for example, if a lane has been constructed for cycling but cars enter it, then it can be avoided like this Another argument that people would raise is that the Indian weather isn’t suited for this The weather in Europe is cool, so it fun to cycle But India faces such harsh summers, then who would cycle here? Hence the cycles cannot be ridden, it isn’t possible First of all, I’d like to tell you that Europe faces snowfall in winter. The people cycle even in the snow There are a a lot of rains also. The people cycle even in the rains So there cannot be an excuse for these two kinds of weather I do accept that the summers are harsh in India There is a simple solution to this and that is e-bikes and e-scooters E-scooters look somewhat like this which are very popular on the roads of Europe You can ride these on cycling tracks You can also ride e-bikes on cycling tracks because their upper-speed limit is around 25 kilometers per hour So if people can ride a motorbike on Highways in India, So e scooters is a very good alternative in which you do not have to put in any effort on your own so you won’t sweat as much This can be done in the summers in India and in the rest of the weathers, one can opt for cycling For the third argument you could say okay, I accept that this is possible and can be done in India, but how will you get this done? How will you convince people to opt for cycling? How will you convince the governments to lay down the cycling tracks? How will everyone get convinced here? In my opinion, this is a valid argument This will be the most challenging part regarding this entire issue How to convince the people and the governments In my opinion, this thing can be done in phases The first step would be to make car free Sundays for the people Motivate people to use cycle instead of cars on Sundays So the people might feel a little motivated Another first step could be to restrict cars from popular public areas For example, a start could be made from Delhi’s CP area Cars could be banned in the inner and the outer circles in the Connaught place Allow only cycling and e scooters there If imposed at one place then the people would start using it, testing it how it works and then we’d learn and can adopt it in the rest of the public areas There are a lot of places like this in Delhi and Mumbai where block by block we can restrict cars And actually, the idea to ban cars from the Connaught Place isn’t new It has been making rounds since quite some time, In fact in 2019, the government had conducted trial runs on it But the problem was that the shopkeepers and traders there began to argue that people won’t come to their shops anymore if cars were banned from that place In my opinion the traders and shopkeepers need to understand that that’s not how it works If you look at the foreign experiments and the trial runs that have been conducted Research tells us that if cars are banned then the people feel motivated to walk more They’d come to the shops more and want to spend longer times there So this logic does not fit well and in my opinion, this is the reason why after the trail runs no government dared to restrict cars there because the people themselves were so dead against it So you can see that it is very important to convince the people as a first step for example, you can do it by sharing this video Another such trial run was attempted in Hyderabad- Charminar Pedestrian Project The area nearby the Charminar monument were to be declared car free And in fact this idea struck the government in 1999 Ever since, attempts have been made to put it into action and to implement it And till date, work has not yet been completed on it Even today, construction has been ongoing Our governments are extremely slow So that is why I would say that this is definitely possible We can draw inspiration and make our cities better But if there is a lack of anything, then it is awareness And all I’d like to say is that how much our governments focus on these real issues is in our hands to a huge extent If the public itself is interested in futile topics and remains interested in issues like faith, then the government too, would put its attention there But if a public voice rises and the public demands that they want to focus on real issues like urban planning and city planning then the government’s attention too can be attracted there So share this video. Share it on the email addresses of your MPs and MLAs Share it on your social media handles Tag your politicians so that they too can focus on issues like these and learn from here So that our cities too become better for living and so that our quality of life improves