Kolkata: The Kolkata Police has issued a fresh notification banning cycles on 62 major thoroughfares of the city and other forms of non-motorised transport on 174 roads for providing safe and uninterrupted movement of vehicular traffic.
Last year, the police had issued notification banning cycles but, the West Bengal government did not ratify it within the stipulated period of two months making the order legally invalid.
Signed by Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha, the new notification under the West Bengal Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, says that the movement of cycle-van, hand cart, pull cart and bicycle has been restricted in Kolkata for providing safe and uninterrupted movement of vehicular traffic.
The movement of bicycles is restricted on 62 thoroughfares while other forms of NMT like cycle-van, hand cart and pull cart is restricted on 174 roads.
Under an RTI reply, the police has admitted that they did not undertake any study on whether the ban would improve the flow of traffic on city roads. Neither has it any report to substantiate it.
Besides ordinary cyclists and green crusaders, newspaper vendors, milkmen, courier boys, transport and bakery vans have opposed the ban, saying this goes against the idea of sustainability and will affect the livelihood of poor people who are dependent on NMT (non-motorised transport).
Under the forum `Chakra Satyagraha`, NMT users have been campaigning for revocation of the ban and have also moved a petition in the Calcutta High Court.
Questioning why the Kolkata Police is not giving priority to NMT when the whole world is moving in that direction, activist Ekta Kothari Jaju who is leading the campaign, said, "We are baffled by this new notification and it goes to show that these decisions are arbitrary and without any reason".
The National Urban Transport Policy has also advocated for giving priority to non-motorised forms of transport as they are non-polluting.
Various studies have shown that vehicles are also the biggest polluter in India as they contribute around 70 per cent of air pollution in the country.
At present, cars occupy around 90 per cent of the road space while carrying only 10 per cent of the passenger load.
A study done by environmental NGO `Switch On` shows that private vehicles are the cause of congestion and not cycles or NMT.
Even prominent social activist Medha Patkar had written to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying such a blanket ban on cycling will adversely affect the poor and working class people.