Mangaluru: MBC Cycle Rally – A ‘Smart Way’ to Campaign for a ‘Smart and Green City’

Mangaluru: Cycling enthusiasts belonging to the Mangalore Bicycle Club organized a cycle rally here on Sunday, 29 November to raise awareness on creating a smart and green city. The rally was flagged off from Mangaluru City Corporation building, Lalbagh at 6:30 am by Police Commissioner S Murugan. Nearly 35 cyclists rode from Lalbagh proceeding towards Tannirbhavi and culminating back at Lalbagh, in an effort to raise awareness on the need for citizen participation in the Smart City campaign.

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Among the many programmes that MCC has organized to raise awareness about the Smart City project, this unique cycle rally organized by the Mangalore Bicycle Club also served the purpose to bring awareness among the citizens of Mangaluru about Smart City. Along with raising an awareness about Smart City, the members of MBC also wanted to bring awareness about creating a green environment in the city. Over the past few months, the MBC has been engaging with citizens across various platforms to gather feedback and suggestions towards the smart development of the city, and has also been trying to encourage people to take up cycling. MBC is more of an informal association with over 200 members and over 1000 followers on its Facebook page, and planned this cycle rally for those who want to join in this campaign for a better and cleaner smart city, Mangaluru.

Apart from many projects undertaken by MBC, on the second Saturday of every month, its members observe a “Car-Free Day” to encourage people to use alternative modes of transport – either take a bus or walk or ride a bicycle to work, do errands and other work. The idea is to give an experience of car-free streets to the people and persuade them to use sustainable modes of transport. They say that it will save an average of 2.6 kg of greenhouse gas emissions per person per day. Through the Car-Free Day, the members of MBC along with other citizens want to spread the message that taking alternative ways other than driving cars/riding two-wheelers can save the environment from pollution.

About Car-Free Day, president of MBC, Ganesh Nayak speaking to Mangalorean.com said, “Car-Free Day is not just limited to using bicycles, for which the Club stands for. The aim is to create awareness about the benefits of using public transport or non-polluting modes of transport as well as the air pollution hazards resulting from the use of personalised modes of transport. Leaving behind one’s personal vehicle at home would also mean lesser congestion on roads, and also one can avoid parking problems.”

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It’s nice to note that MBC members and many citizens, young and old, have opted for cycling for various reasons, like health benefits, saving the environment, as hobby and so on. This movement could go a long way in preserving the environment for the next generation. While they are doing their part to promote this campaign for the benefit of the city, the citizens also need to support this campaign to make it a successful one. Along with this cycle rally, the members of MBC will also submit a memorandum to DC AB Ibrahim on 30 November, containing the following demands, including implementation of rules and regulations pertaining to cyclists.

– Identify zones and sub lanes/parallel roads and make them cycle/walk friendly in all prominent locations by putting up sign boards with flashing solar LEDs. Cyclists should take up sub lanes/parallel roads and not the main roads for commuting.

– Marking of intersection points with flashing boards with strict speed limits where bicycles will connect the main road until they take a detour to the next sub lanes/parallel roads or cycling friendly zone. This will make cycling safer and also help avoid slow traffic on main roads because of cyclists.

– Main roads to be identified where cyclists will not be allowed compulsorily. Strict speed limit timing in 1 km radius (7 am to 9 am and 2 pm to 4 pm) with traffic police around schools and colleges. This will encourage parents/children to walk or pedal to school with traffic police.

– Incentive program to be rolled out at every schools and colleges for 8th grade and above like scholarships, rewards & recognition during school day function in coordination with pollution board and other environmental related bodies. This should be backed with proper parking bay for bicycles with safety by schools and colleges. Cycling as a commute to be included in parent teacher meeting in coordination with cycling clubs which can give insight on how cycling can be made safer.

– Schools should compulsorily conduct one cycling rally every 6 months with support from cycling clubs in Mangaluru to encourage cycling as a sport and mode of commuting. Public transport including buses and autos plying within city should strictly follow speed limits and not use air horns which is a menace and threat to pedestrians and cyclists currently.

– Normal big size buses to be avoided in single lane/two way traffic and encourage mini-buses so that congestion at narrow junctions will be avoided. While allocating routes to new buses put restrictions on the size of the buses and have them preferably CNG based.

– Car-free day to be popularized in Govt offices by giving incentives to employees – offering them free lunch, gift vouchers, etc. Conduct bicycle rallies once in 3 months with top officials from Traffic police/MLAs, Ministers, DC, MCC top officials, celebrities each time integrating with private sponsors.

– Waiving or reducing VAT burden on cyclists on purchase of bicycles just like how solar products are incentivized. Some income tax and depreciation benefits to organizations for promoting cycling to their employees. Cycling activity to be included in the definition of charitable purpose for getting income tax benefit under sec 12 AA of Income Tax act.

– Value based bicycle loans (Rs. 10,000/-) from banks at subsidized rates to be introduced for promoting people to opt bicycle for commute. Street dogs menace to be taken care of immediately by MCC to make cycling safer.

– Erratic parking of motor vehicles by private users, which makes it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists, to be imposed heavy penalties and repeat offenders to be treated as criminal offence. Road conditions should be improvised in cycling specific roads.

– At least one cycling zone to be identified and allocated from the existing infrastructure – Tannirbhavi, one side of the road.

– Identify cycle parking bay/racks at prominent commercial building, malls, markets, etc. Also make these things mandatory for all new buildings at the time of applying for license.

Rules to be implemented for all cyclists: Wearing helmets mandatory; Cyclists to ride only on the left side of the road; Zebra crossing to be made mandatory for cyclist while turning or changing lane; Flash lights both front and rear to be made mandatory.

In an ideal world situation, a 1 meter cycling track on all roads would be a perfect scenario. But understanding the difficulty to achieve this, the above points can be considered to make provision with some rules and guidelines for cyclists’ safety and also to encourage cycling.

The main aspect to be considered here is the topography of Mangaluru. As cyclists have to peddle and there is no motor assistance, the selection of roads should be done where there are minimal ups and downs.

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