Medha Patkar writes to Mamata for revocation of ban on cycling

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Kolkata, Sept 11: Social activist Medha Patkar has appealed to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to revoke the blanket ban on cycling in Kolkata, saying this will work against poor and working class people who are dependent on this "inexpensive" mode of transport to earn a living.

In a letter written to Mamata, Patkar said she was stunned to know that the Kolkata Traffic Police had recently passed an order banning cycles, hand carts, pull carts, tri-cycles and other forms of non-motorised transport off the roads from 174 major and minor streets in the metropolis. Demanding that the ban be revoked, the Narmada Bachao Andolan activist said it was an "anti-poor and anti-working class step".

"The order is not only in violation of the National Urban Transport policy of 2006 that encourages non-motorised forms of transport, but also an assault on the livelihood of working class people", she wrote. Patkar, also the convener of the National Alliance of People's Movements in New Delhi, said millions of poor and working class people in Kolkata were dependent on these forms of transport for earning an honest living and also commute using them within the city.

Activist Medha Patkar said it was an anti-poor and anti-working class step

"Cycles are a perfect manifestation of your party's slogan and vision - since bicycles and non-motorised transport are socially inclusive, directly support livelihoods, inexpensive; take much less space, good for the environment and health, and least likely to cause jams and accidents," she said.

Patkar suggested that on the lines of other metros, local authorities should work with experts to find a holistic solution to Kolkata's traffic congestion problems that focuses to provide safety to pedestrians and non-motorised transport through building of cycle tracks, public cycle scheme and integrate that with other forms of public transport.

She also cited data from the Ministry of Urban Development which shows that Kolkata is the only metropolitan city in India where trips by cycle (11 per cent) outnumber trips by cars (8 per cent). Since Kolkata has the lowest number of private cars and the least amount of road space, cycling is practical and popular besides being a non-polluting mode of transport, she said.


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