Chandigarh, July 25
The Municipal Corporation, today, initiated a significant step to make the city bicycle-friendly. Ms Anu Chatrath, Mayor, signed the Velo Mondial (London, Amsterdam) charter and action plan for bicycle-friendly communities, on behalf of the city today. Mr Christopher Huggins countersigned the charter on behalf of Velo Mondial. Describing the charter, the Mayor said it provides a blueprint and a set of directives for promoting the bicycle as an efficient, environmentally friendly alternative to motorised transport. Ms Chatrath said the city; with a population exceeding one million had, as in big cities everywhere, environmental challenges and transport problems. “A large number of city residents own bicycles and continue to use this highly economical mode of transport. However, existing facilities for bicycle riders in the city are not sufficient.
An increasing number of cities worldwide now look upon the bicycle as a solution to improving the environment, reducing congestion, enhancing public health and more,” she maintained. The Mayor said with the signing of this charter, the corporation had made public its will to bring respect and dignity back to the cyclist. The bicycle as the poor man’s transport was in fact the healthiest mode of transport. Its usage had reduced in recent years, in many cases because of the safety issues and the rise of air pollution, both caused by motorised vehicles. Through starting a dialogue with Velo Mondial, the city has taken a step further towards promoting the bicycle as an effective mode of transport for its citizens. In the following weeks, an analysis will be made on the current state of bicycle friendliness in the city. Factors such as bicycle safety, cycle paths, funding and partnerships will be explored. Representatives of the city will be invited to the next Velo Mondial conference in Cape Town, South Africa, (March 5 to 10, 2006) in order to represent the city and voice their views, the Mayor added.
The signing represents one more major achievement in the “360 ways venture” which began in Paris in June 2004. Having crossed seven European countries, Christopher Huggins and Peter Kennedy reached India on June 2 and Christopher reached the city on July 9. The “360 ways venture” aims at promoting the bicycle a mode for urban transport and solution for sustainable urbanisation. The project was chalked out by Christopher Huggins and Peter Kennedy, with the support from the sponsors, to give a new life to the bicycle globally. “This is a starting point for cities that realise the benefits of the bicycle for all. Among these benefits are reduced air pollution and noise pollution, less accidents and less traffic congestion. The health and well being of citizens of bicycle-friendly cities gets improved not only by the route physical activity itself, but also through lower air pollution and less road accidents”, Huggins maintains.