Ministry of Road Transport and Highways preparing specifications
As in some foreign countries, cycles may soon become an intrinsic part of lifestyle in the country. That is because roads will now come with separate cycles tracks.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has decided to make it mandatory to provide separate lanes for cyclists much as paved shoulders for pedestrians.
The rising number of deaths of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists has woken the government out of its slumber compelling it to force the issue with the authorities concerned and push them to abide by the road standards specified by the Indian Road Congress (IRC), a body comprising engineers belonging to the Union and State governments, and approved by the Planning Commission.
In 2011, more than 1.42 lakh people died in road accidents and 68 per cent of fatalities were victims from these categories of people. The only way forward is to take tough decisions and direct the road users to abide by the directives which the MoRTH has decided to issue shortly.
The MoRTH is preparing technical specifications based on guidelines for designing elevated zebra crossings, road intersections, signages and cycle tracks. Design and specifications are being prepared for having such a buffer zone and the number of riders to cater to.
It is perhaps the first time in over 60 years after 1962 that urban road planning is being undertaken to address the entire magnitude of the problem as one whole component — it is an exercise where the government is evolving standards from scratch, so to say.
These will apply for all roads — rural, municipal, district, State, and national highways. All new road projects will have to conform to IRC standards.The engineering design will have to adhere to the technical specifications by the rural development departments, which construct the rural roads, municipal corporations for urban roads, the road construction departments in the State for the district and State roads, and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for national highways.
Officials admitted that the construction cost of roads will shoot up — which is now about Rs. 3 crore per km.
The smaller cities and rural areas, where fatalities have shot up, will benefit the most as they provide better scope for construction of wider roads with separate cycle tracks and paved shoulders.
The problem will be in the urban areas, particularly the metros, where retrofitting the cycle tracks on roads already burdened by heavy traffic will pose a challenge. Needless to say, widening the roads for the purpose too is a near impossibility.
The MoRTH, however, has decided to make it mandatory for the bigger cities to retrofit new features, including a separate lane for cycles.
Article source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3728366.ece