Mumbai: The recent fuel hike underscores the
need to strengthen facilities for public transport,
pedestrians and cyclists, and curbs on use of private
vehicles, argues a new book.
"Even in the automobile-dominated United States, the
secretary for transportation Ray LaHood recently directed his
administration that pedestrians and cyclists should receive as
much importance as motorists on the nation`s roads and in
planning," Vidyadhar Date, a senior journalist and researcher
India should learn lessons by democratising its transport
system, argues Date, the author of `Traffic In the Era of
Climate Change` released last week. Pedestrians, cyclists and
public transport need priority, he notes.
Janette Sadik Khan, Traffic Commissioner of New York,
known as a cycling and walking enthusiast, has turned many
areas in the Big Apple, including the famous Times Square,
into green spaces and pedestrian plazas, he says in the book.
There is a big movement building up in the West against a
motor-car dominated pattern of industrial and urban
development and we need to take note of it, argues Date.
Women, children, pedestrians, handicapped and the poor
are most vulnerable on our roads. Over one lakh people are
killed on Indian roads every year, more than in any other
country, he says.
London, New York, Paris and several cities have hundreds
of kilometres of dedicated cycle tracks. This can be and
should be done with strong political will in India, he adds.
The success of Bus Rapid Transit System in Ahmedabad is
encouraging and in Delhi too the system is being developed.
A small beginning towards promoting the bicycle has been
made by MPs like Sandeep Dikshit, son of Delhi chief minister
Sheila Dikshit, who cycles to the Parliament, Date says.
A study earlier this year by National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) shows conclusively that
automobiles are biggest contributors to global warming,
he notes in the book.
India desperately needs to curb the use of cars and
promote alternative means of transport, he says, adding this
will save money, boost the environment, reduce pollution and