The path to urban development is laid with good intentions but the one paved for sustainable development is full of good work.
A take on the age-old proverb, this is exactly the ethos that the ITDP India Programme has persevered for, while mobilising the landscape of India’s transport system. This effort, to infuse the principles of equality and sustainability to the core of urban mobility, was taken up a notch in 2018.
The year marked the India Programme’s two decades of catalysing change in over a third of urban India. In this pursuit, of creating better streets, better cities, and better lives, the ITDP India Programme registered some major wins and here are some of the notable achievements in 2018:
The path to reimagine Indian cities from the perspective of equitability, livability, and sustainability is full of good work and ITDP India Programme is all set for the long haul.
It was back in 1998 that ITDP began its engagements in India, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” What started as one woman’s journey to change the dystopian path our cities were drifting towards has transformed into a formidable force of young, passionate visionaries who strive to bring back life in a place we call home. Today, ITDP celebrates two decades of action on the ground, catalysing tangible transformation at scale in over a third of urban India.
Transportation is the focus of many pressing issues facing the world today—decisions about whether to build highways or bus corridors have a great impact on our health and our planet. For this reason, ITDP has worked with over 18 Indian cities to reduce the human impact of transport choices: ensuring cities put people before cars, all citizens can walk and cycle safety, and jobs and services are a bus ride away. Through the dedicated efforts of our team and a strategic approach towards sustainable transport, ITDP India programme has impacted the lives of millions for the past 20 years.
The journey in India began in Agra. The vision to develop a modern cycle rickshaw to counter the growing threats of motor vehicular pollution, gave way to the India Cycle Rickshaw Improvement Project. What started off as five prototypes has become sustainably embedded as the standard design in cities across North India. Today, around half a million of these modern cycle rickshaws serve 4-5 million zero-carbon trips daily and offer dignified livelihood to over a million people, transforming the lives of their families as well.
ITDP realised the need to transform the quality and availability of public transport in Indian cities. Since 2003, the India Programme evangelised the idea of the Bus Rapid Transit (popularly known as BRT) to transform mediocre bus services into high-quality mass transit.
Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, welcomed ITDP to reimagine bus transit in 2005. Our partnership with Environment Planning Collaborative, and thereafter with CEPT University and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation resulted in the launch of Janmarg (in 2009)—India’s first high quality BRT system that expands to a network of 87 km. Janmarg has inspired many cities in India, and with guidance from ITDP, five cities have created 200 km of high-quality BRT to date.
In 2009, the India Programme revolutionised the way people perceived streets in India. Safe, child-friendly streets are not just a mirage of the past, but can be a beautiful reality even today. Ahmedabad was the first city in India to host Car-Free Sundays in collaboration with ITDP, Riverside School and other partners. The initiative allowed citizens to experience the freedom of walking and cycling on safer car-free streets. The success enabled expansion to Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra to raise awareness and transform their streets into places we all dream of everyday.
ITDP India Programme initiated collaboration with Chennai City Connect in 2009 to improve cycling and walking conditions across the city. Change isn’t easy in cities where the car is a symbol for status. But within five years of ITDP’s engagement with the city, Chennai took the bold move of adopting the Non Motorised Transport (NMT) Policy—first in India.
The policy mandates that a minimum of 60 percent of of transport funding to create and maintain walking and cycling infrastructure in the city. Having retrofitted over 50 km of walkable streets over the years, Chennai has initiated the next phase of redesigning an additional 50 km of street network. Chennai’s policy has inspired many national and international cities—from Chandigarh to Nairobi—to adopt similar policies. The comprehensive approach undertaken by Chennai, was awarded the Sustainia Award in 2015.
Since 2013, the India Programme has worked with the smaller cities of Tamil Nadu – Coimbatore, Trichy, Tirupur, Salem, and Madurai. In Coimbatore, the Namma Kovai Namakke (Our Coimbatore Ourselves) campaign, initiated by ITDP, sparked citizen demand for better pedestrian facilities. Coimbatore was the first city in Tamil Nadu to host Car-Free Sundays, that inspired Chennai and Madurai to do the same. The city also adopted The Coimbatore Street Design and Management Policy that aims to increase walking, cycling and public transport use. In light of Coimbatore’s vision to improve people-mobility, the city has planned a 30 km-network of walking and cycling paths to connect the city’s major lakes, in line with the guiding Policy.
The India programme began its engagements in Maharashtra in 2009, first with the Municipal Corporations of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, and thereafter in Nashik and Aurangabad. Today, Pune is the epitome of a smart Indian city. Pune launched 40 kms of the Rainbow BRT in 2015, with an additional 45 km in the pipeline. The city adopted the Urban Street Design Guidelines and plans to redesign 100 km of streets based on the world-class standards set by the transformation of JM Road and DP Road pilot project.
While Pune has taken the first steps towards developing a people-centric city, the next challenge is to address the encroachment onto footpaths by parked vehicles. As a result, Pune adopted the Public Parking Policy to regulate parking, in 2018. The Policy aims to manage on-street parking through an efficient paid parking system but exempts bicycle parking from any charges. Pune realises that encouraging cycling reduces CO2, improves commuters’ health and increases retail visibility. As a result, the city plans to implement a dockless Public Bicycle Sharing system of 13,100 cycle, under the city’s Bicycle Plan. Yes, the city has worked wonders. Pune, Chennai, and Coimbatore – all cities ITDP assisted, were selected in the first round of the national government’s Smart City Mission.
In 2013, the India programme also expanded to Ranchi, the capital of the state of Jharkhand. Local conditions were unfavourable to support sustainable transport; thus, ITDP initiated collaboration with local civil society groups, educational institutions and trade associations that formed the Ranchi Mobility Partnership. Ranchi’s Mobility for All action plan prepared by ITDP, with input from the partners, provided a detailed roadmap of transport solutions for local conditions.
The action plan inspired the city to take responsibility of overseeing operations of 100 new buses, and an additional 300 buses in the due course—an applaudable move for a city that had fewer than 30 buses. The plan also identified a cycle network to improve access to public transport; as a result, the city is in the midst of constructing the state’s first Bicycle Sharing system comprising of 1200 cycles.
Onward and upward, Ranchi’s Parking Policy has inspired other cities in the state, like Jamshedpur, to manage on-street parking. The State too realised the chaos caused by unregulated parking and thereafter adopted the Jharkhand Parking Regulations—first in India. Jharkhand is also the first state to endorse the Transit Oriented Development Policy that was prepared in consultation with ITDP India.
On account of leveraging the sustainable transport agenda at the national level, the India expanded to the country’s capital, Delhi, in 2016. This gave rise to the policy brief on Women and Transport in collaboration with Safetipin and UN Women. Women represent the largest share of public transport users, yet they face many barriers that limit their mobility such as safety, comfort, convenience and affordability. Empowering women in transport enables them to participate in workforce, thereby creating a societal shift to transform the entire world economy.
The India Programme’s capacity development work, through training workshops and study tours, has been imperative to the success of its projects and policy. The India Programme has trained over 1000 government officials and other stakeholders. Over the years, our knowledge products have not only been used for best practise references, but also endorsed by the government – for example, the National Guidelines for Public Bicycle-sharing for the Ministry of Urban Development, and Street Design and BRT Guidelines for the Indian Roads Congress (IRC).
Since 1998, ITDPs’ agenda of improving the quality of life of citizens through equitable and sustainable transport has only magnified in momentum over time. Times have evolved, but our dream remains the same. Take a moment and imagine a 2050: will we design a future where we continue to get trapped in endless traffic while pollution destroys the city, and infrastructure fails to deliver? Or, will we live in ‘smart cities’ where people can zip around town, connected with walking and cycling boulevards and world-class rapid transit. The choice is yours; we chose the latter.
P.S. Dear Mahatma Gandhiji, we are being the change we wish to see in the world today. And, we have been doing it successfully for the past 20 years in India!
“At the end of the day, I head to a nearby store for vegetables and other items before walking home,” explains Shivani, a native of Ranchi who commutes to work by shared auto rickshaw. Her shuttle isn’t uncommon in a city that’s growing rapidly despite the lack of formalised public transport system. However, she needn’t fret – the city’s ‘go-ahead’ for a public bicycle sharing system (commonly known as PBS system) aims to improve last-mile connectivity.
In Jharkhand’s first step toward cycle-friendly streets, Ranchi city has begun construction of its PBS system stations this month. ITDP assisted the State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) in preparing the feasibility of PBS in Ranchi that proposes to see 1200 cycles distributed in the state capital. ITDP also provided technical assistance for the tender document and review of bids in the process.
Construction of PBS stations underway in Ranchi
A PBS system is a flexible form of personal public transport. Cycles are stored in a closely spaced network of stations. With a smart card or other form of identification, a user can check out a cycle from a station and return it to any other station. The system offers the convenience of cycling without the burden of ownership, and the flexibility to accommodate one-way trips.
PBS stations are being built in high-density commercial areas
With the finalisation of the operator, the system is being implemented in two phases: 600 cycles will be rolled out by May and the remaining 600 by July. The cycle stations provide access to notable public destinations in high-density commercial activity zones like Main Road and Lalpur Road, institutional areas and residential neighbourhoods.
The implementation of the system will not only enhance the image of cycling in Ranchi, but also reduce congestion and improve air quality by attracting private vehicle users. Ranchi’s endeavour to reclaim streets for people will bring them a new experience: a city that can be enjoyed on cycles!
“Smart cities are equivalent to glamorous buildings where policies and guidelines form a strong foundation”, Mr. Kunal Kumar, IAS, Commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation. Over the years, our streets have been reduced to battlefields as people try to grapple with traffic congestion, lack of footpaths, and air pollution. One city that has taken bold, applaudable measures to rectify this chaos is Pune. Pune has been and continues to be an inspiration for many Indian cities that strive to reclaim streets for its people.
To explore Pune’s accomplishments, ITDP organised and facilitated a study tour for Tamil Nadu city officials – Corporation Commissioners of Erode, Madurai, Salem, Tiruppur, and Vellore, accompanied by engineers from the office of the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration. The study tour was conducted in collaboration with Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. (also known as PSCDCL) and Pune Municipal Corporation, in February. The one-day programme aimed to sensitise participants on the best practises of designing complete streets – streets with quality footpaths, segregated cycle tracks, safe pedestrian crossing and managed parking.
Delegates interacting with PSCDCL team at the Smart City Operations Centre
The delegates visited the Smart City Operations Centre that seamlessly integrates management and monitoring of the smart city operations. To the extent, “this system also oversees the energy consumed by streetlights in the city and alerts us when any light stops working”, explained Mr. Manojit Bose,Chief Knowledge Officer, PSCDCL. The team from Tamil Nadu marvelled at the Centre’s resourcefulness at data collection and efficiency in maintaining the city’s public infrastructure.
This was followed by a roundtable discussion, facilitated by Mr Kunal Kumar, Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation. Mr Kumar highlighted three guiding principles for a smart city: adopt policies that guide it’s existing and future transportation requirements, leverage multiple sources of funding, and build internal capacity. Pune has launched a two-year programme with Singapore Land Transport Authority to enable 120 engineers from five departments in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad to acquire the knowledge and skills required for the projects.
Mr. Kunal Kumar interacts with the Tamil Nadu team and shares his recommendations for the success of the smart city projects.
The discussion was followed by a site visit to Aundh-DP road to observe the seamless execution of Pune’s complete streets. Mr. Vikas Thakar, Pavetech Consultants, gave an insight into the implementation of high quality streets and detailed the design process of DP road. The delegates took the opportunity to experience Pune’s public bicycle sharing (PBS) system first-hand by cycling along the dedicated cycle tracks on DP Road. Pune’s dockless PBS system was proposed under the city’s Bicycle Plan which piloted 275 bicycles of the proposed total of 13,100 docked bicycles. The system received a great response from the delegates.
Tamil Nadu delegates testing Pune’s dockless PBS system
The delegates also visited a transformed public amenity space at Baner. Pune’s vision of creating recreational spaces has been revolutionised. Gone are the days when parks were the only public open spaces in the city. Underutilised and derelict parcels of land have been acquired by the Corporation and developed into theme-based amenity spaces. The two pilot projects in Baner are perfect examples of how cities can explore and catalyse the versatility of urban spaces.
Amenity space developed on the theme of ‘Art and Culture’ in Baner
Although smart cities are often synonymous with information and communication technologies, a city has to invest in human and social capital for improving the quality of life and achieving sustainable economic development. That is when it can truly become a smart city. And, after the exposure visit to Pune, it can be safely said that this is what cities in Tamil Nadu are aspiring for!
“I would gladly leave my motorcycle home and cycle at least thrice a week if roads were made safer!”, said Deepti Gokhale, a working woman in Pune. Granting her wish and that of many others in the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) General Body has approved a Comprehensive Bicycle Plan which envisages safe and convenient cycling conditions for existing and future cyclists in the city.
To transform this vision of a cycling haven into reality, the Plan provides several recommendations including the creation of a city-wide cycle track network, a public bicycle sharing system, design guidelines for cycle-friendly infrastructure, bicycle parking facilities and strategy for awareness campaigns. Its vision for integration with public transit prompts Pune’s citizens to use cycling for last-mile connectivity. With the Pune Bicycle Plan, PMC aims to improve the city’s share of cyclists from its current 3% to 25% by 2031.
Not long ago, cycling was a widely popular mode of transit, favored by most school and college students. However, today cycling constitutes a mere 3% of the city’s trips owing to congested, unsafe roads with over 500 motorized two-wheelers and cars being registered every day. In an effort to make Pune a cycle-friendly city again, the Comprehensive Mobility Plan, prepared in 2008, set an ambitious goal that “by 2031 at least half the trips in Pune i.e. 50%, should be by walk or cycle”. To meet this goal, PMC set out to create a Bicycle Plan for the city, with support from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and encouragement from Parisar, a non-profit organization lobbying for sustainable transport.
The Corporation appointed a team of consultants, including iTrans, Prasanna Desai Architects and Centre for Environment Education (CEE), to create the plan. The consultants surveyed over 11,000 people from various backgrounds for their travel patterns, views about cycling, willingness to shift, etc. A Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) was formed to oversee the progress of work, with regular cyclists and concerned citizens as key members. ITDP India Programme was also a part of the BAC and helped in periodically reviewing the Plan. Two rounds of public consultation took place before the drafted Bicycle Plan was submitted to the General Body for approval.
One of the primary objectives of the Pune Bicycle Plan is the creation of a 300 km network of bicycle tracks in the city. The fear of riding on roads with mixed traffic deters people from cycling regularly. Segregated, user-friendly cycle tracks, like the one recently constructed on JM Road, will help put them back on their bicycles.
A key component of the Plan to support the cycle track network in the city is the Urban Cycling Design Guidelines for cycling infrastructure, like the physically segregated cycle tracks in high-speed roads, the visually segregated cycle lanes in medium-speed roads, shared use of cycles and motorised traffic in low-speed roads, and appropriate vegetation. The Plan details the width and material requirements to enable comfortable conditions for cyclists.
The public bicycle sharing (PBS) system proposed under the Plan aims to serve as another mode of transport for commuters and provide efficient last-mile connectivity for public transit users. The Plan suggests 388 stations and 4700 bicycles in the first phase, with a proposed total of 13100 docked bicycles. A dockless PBS system, recently piloted with 275 bicycles in three different areas of the city, has received great response from residents and four vendors dealing with dockless systems have recently signed an MoU with PMC.
Apart from the policy and design changes, the Plan also recommends awareness and outreach programmes to rejuvenate the culture of cycling in the city. As part of these programmes, several discussions have been conducted with multiple stakeholders such as schools and colleges, RTO, Traffic Police, various NGOs, cycle shops and corporate staff (as a part of their CSR initiative).
The year 2018 will see various measures for the implementation of the Cycle Plan, like the setting up of PMC’s Bicycle Department, re-construction and retrofitting of select existing cycle tracks, and the development of a training facility for cycle mechanics. With many such steps in place – and in the pipeline – for the improvement of all sustainable transportation modes, Pune is becoming an incredibly ‘smart’ city indeed!
“The mode share of cycles, elicited from the household survey carried out in 2016 for the Pune Cycle Plan is 3%. This is a much smaller proportion as compared to the modal share of 2012 from Pune Metro DPR study which shows 9% of cycle as a mode share.”- Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, 2017
 Currently, walking and cycling constitute 32% of the trips made in the city
“I used to take my two-wheeler to travel the 3 kilometers between my house and the railway station. I’m now able to walk the stretch, thanks to the continuous footpath. Best part – I’ve lost 5 kilos and my diabetes!” Mr. Manimaran, a resident of Egmore in Chennai, is thrilled at the tremendous change that a safer and better footpath has brought about in his life.
The year 2017 witnessed many such impactful changes in the field of sustainable transportation all around the country, including cities which ITDP India Programme has been closely working with. Thanking all our supporters, we take a look at the year that passed by.
Pune broke ground on its ambitious Complete Streets networks – a 100km-network with its own financial resources and 45km through support from the National Smart Cities Mission. The first phase of these street design projects on JM Road and DP Road has already been lauded by the country, owing to the vibrancy of these redesigned streets. Pune’s Bicycle Plan, recently approved by the General Body, paves way for the creation of a 300km bicycle-track network in the city.
Having accomplished over 40km of Complete Streets, Chennai initiated the next phase of street design by inviting tenders in late October to redesign 22km of streets. The city tested out the design of 5 key intersections through a tactical urbanism approach – quick, temporary, on-ground interventions. Chennai also conducted another trial run of the proposed pedestrian plaza in Pondy Bazaar, the success of which fetched the project a sanction of of Rs 55 crores (~US $9 million) under the Smart Cities Mission.
Smaller cities have also made remarkable progress this year in their Complete Streets programmes – Nashik appointed nationally-acclaimed urban designers to redesign its proposed street network of 50 kilometers, with 10 kilometers tendered out; and Coimbatore commenced construction of its Model Roads and hosted an interactive exhibition to inform the people of the design of the roads while collecting feedback. Coimbatore also started developing detailed implementation plans for its Greenways and Lake Restoration Project, which includes a 30km network of greenways (exclusive walking and cycling infrastructure) that crisscross the city and connect 8 water bodies.
Becoming one of the pioneering cities in parking management in the country, Ranchi implemented a progressive on-street parking management system on its busiest thoroughfare, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, with a twelve-fold increase in revenue. Inspired by the success of the pilot, the city has proposed to refine and expand the system to cover all key locations. The state of Jharkhand has also proposed to adopt a state-level parking policy.
Chennai recently invited tenders to select an operator for its proposed on-street parking management system covering 12000 equivalent car spaces on Bus Route Roads across the city. Since Pune is also working towards parking management, ITDP, in collaboration with GIZ-SUTP, facilitated and managed a two-day workshop on the topic, with international parking expert, Dr Paul Barter in the city. Participants included municipal officials, traffic police, public officials from other agencies as well as various local stakeholders.
An increase in demand for better public transport has provided the fillip to cities across the country to increase and improve their transit services. Chennai made considerable advancement in its BRT planning, with the interim report for Phase I approved by the state and a series of public consultation programmes organised to explain the significance of BRT to people and get their feedback on the various corridors.
In Pune, around 130 crore rupees was sanctioned to construct 13 new bus terminals to facilitate better integration of bus services with the proposed Metro Rail network. The city also commenced work on expanding the existing 38km Rainbow BRT by an additional 15km. Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) initiated the process of adding 200 feeder buses to its fleet, to improve connectivity between the city and the surrounding towns.
Public bicycle sharing (PBS) is emerging as a popular mode of public transit across the country. Pune piloted a dockless PBS system with 275 bicycles and signed an MoU with 4 vendors dealing with dockless systems. Two other cities are preparing for the installation of a PBS system – Ranchi and Chennai invited operators to submit proposals for setting up 1264 bicycles in 122 stations (Phase 1) and 5000 bicycles in 378 designated parking areas, respectively.
Successful and sustained on-ground changes invariably require the backing of well-framed guidelines, policies and financial plans – 2017 was marked by many of these. Two sets of guidelines – the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) planning and design guidelines, and the Guidelines on Control and Regulation of Mixed Traffic in Urban Areas – prepared by ITDP, were approved by the apex committee of the Indian Roads Congress. These guidelines will apply for all cities across India and guide them towards low-carbon mobility.
The Government of Jharkhand adopted an inclusive TOD policy that focuses on equitable development of cities in the state, so that a majority of the population lives and works in areas with safe and accessible walking and cycling facilities integrated with reliable and high-quality public transport.
The Government of Maharashtra published a draft of the State Urban Transport Policy, which promotes low-carbon & equitable mobility and urban development by prioritising public transport (PT) and non-motorised transport (NMT). Furthermore, over half of Pune’s total transportation budget of 1100 crore rupees was allocated towards sustainable transport development for the financial year 2017-18. In the South, Coimbatore adopted a Street Design and Management Policy that focuses on creating equitable and sustainable mobility options and expanding their use.
The realisation that sustainable urban development will remain elusive without integrating women’s safety and comfort in urban transport, has generated momentum to include gender as a key factor in transport planning. Bringing this subject to the fore and as a first of its kind, a paper on Women and Transport in Indian Cities was created by ITDP and Safetipin, and released at a national workshop on gender and transit conducted by the two organisations. This paper identifies indicators, service level benchmarks and processes for integrating a gender perspective in urban transport projects, policies and programs along with good practice case studies.
2017 was a year of radical planning indeed, with many grand plans conceived, developed and initiated for sustainable transportation. With all these plans set to materialize in the coming months, 2018 will be a year of implementation and tangible transformation. Looking forward to a great year ahead: Happy New Year!
Bus Rapid Transit (km) 92 | BRT Passengers (per day) 50,000 | Bike Share Stations 175 | Total Bike Share Bikes 2600 | Total Cyclist (per day) 40,000| Cycling Infrastructure (km) 36
Santiago, the Chilean capital with an urban population of five million, and a metro area population of over seven million, is a beautiful old-world city enjoying a modern day renaissance. Despite the city’s attempt to improve transport for its people through its BRT Transantiago in 2006, it had been lagging behind other cities in the region on cycling and walking.
However, between 2015-16, non-motorised (walking and cycling) and public transportation in Santiago underwent significant development, transforming the city into a haven for its citizens. Santiago was thus announced as the winner of the 2017 Sustainable Transport Award (STA). The city will be hosting ITDP’s annual sustrans summit MOBILIZE between June 28 – 30, 2017.
Our Indian government also aims to implement such people-friendly mobility initiatives through the Smart City Mission, and can draw on the lessons of Santiago at MOBILIZE. Amongst other attendees from India, Sameer Sharma, Additional Secretary & Smart City Mission Director, MoUD will also be at the summit. As a speaker, he will be sharing his thoughts on how a city can be made inclusive through principles of mobility and access.
Car ownership has soared in Chile over the past decade along with the economy, with the number of cars bough increasing each year from 2003 to 2014. Greater Santiago is now home to seven million people, and four million cars. However, the last few years have seen considerable changes. Owing to the significant improvements in transit, cycling & walking, and the overall public realm, as a result of the city’s Integrated Mobility Plan, more Santiaguinos have shifted to these modes to get around their city.
Santiago’s Calle Aillavilú, in the central market of the city, has been transformed from a derelict, car-congested and unregulated parking lot to a pedestrian-friendly oasis. The street was repaved, lighting improved, new trees were planted, and most importantly, cars were removed. Except for the scheduled delivery of goods, no motorized traffic is allowed. Calle Placer, one of the busiest pedestrian streets during a popular weekend market, is now completely closed to cars on the weekends, with a 2.2 million USD investment by the city for improved sidewalks, lighting, and sanitation.
On Sunday mornings, cars are banned from 40 kilometers of Santiago’s roads. Around 30,000 people take to those vehicle-free streets on bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, or simply on foot. The Car-Free days in many Indian cities have also been highly successful and can be scaled up, learning from Santiago.
Other public space improvements include an investment in 100 sqm. of new green spaces in historic residential neighborhoods, revitalizing a previously abandoned area, and the re-design of the Historical Center’s main streets, featuring more sidewalk space, improved lighting, beautification, and a “complete streets” redesign for public transport exclusive corridors in the most active pedestrian zone in the country.
Cycling mode share has doubled since 2006, with the number of cyclists on major routes growing by 25 percent a year for the past two years. The City has backed up this achievement with new sustainable transport policy changes and education programs. In April 2015, the National Ministry of Housing and Urbanism created a detailed standard of design for high quality cycle lanes, even piloting it in a major street near the presidential palace. The policy redistributes road spaces to create more space for cyclist. This standard was quickly adopted by Santiago, and the city has managed to increase cycling trips from a negligible 150 per day to over 5000 per day.
This number is expected to further rise with the growing popularity of BikeSantiago, the city’s bike share program, which accounts for 50 percent of the increase. Santiago also gave support to BMov Trici, a free bicycle taxi in the historic city center operated by a private company, supported by advertising, that encourages cycle use and provides a non-motorized alternative to taxis.
The city has also adopted a pilot program of cycling games in kindergarten to help introduce cycling early in life and a traffic education program at primary schools to create better cyclist behavior.
With all these efforts to improve the quality of life for the people, Santiago won STA 2017 and will be the site of Mobilize 2017, ITDP’s annual Sustainable Transport Summit, supported by the Volvo Research and Education Foundations. This event will give international transportation researchers and professionals an opportunity to experience this emerging city as a learning lab for best practices in sustainable transport. For more information, visit mobilizesummit.org
(With excerpts from a toolkit developed by the author for the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India)
When it comes to public cycle sharing systems, India doesn’t need to look too far. China, in just under a decade, has outpaced European cities that gave birth to the idea half a century ago. Today, all but four of the 20 largest systems in the world are in China—ranging from 8000 to 80000 shared cycles. Unfortunately, India has none.
What is cycle sharing?
Cycle sharing is a healthy, non-polluting, and flexible form of personal public transport—a great option for short trips and as a feeder to other public transport options. Cycles are securely stored (or docked) at a closely spaced network of stations. With a smart card or another form of identification, a user can check out a cycle from any station, use it for a short ride, and return it at any other station of the system. For a small membership fee (annual/monthly/daily), users can make unlimited free trips, as long as they return the cycle within a stipulated time (typically capped at 30-45 minutes).
Is cycle sharing a new concept?
Not really. It started as an experiment half a century back in Amsterdam with fifty cycles. Since then, the idea has evolved and expanded while retaining the basic essence. Advances in information technology gave a big boost to the idea and led to a massive growth in the last decade. Today, there are over 1.3 million shared cycles in over a 1000 cities around the globe. More systems are starting every year. Cycle sharing has demonstrated its ability to re-energize cycling—transforming the image of cycles from lowly tool to cool mode. In many cities, it has also led to the creation of large networks of safe cycling facilities.
Where does one start?
Above everything else, cycle sharing requires political will and policy support to succeed. Some of the largest and most successful cycle sharing systems in the world—such as those in Paris, London, and New York—are a result of active championing by the mayors of those cities. London’s hugely popular cycle-sharing scheme is a result of two of its former mayors, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson, who were determined to increase cycling in London.
The London story also gives us insights on the best way to implement a cycle sharing programme— through public-private partnership. While the London scheme is overseen by the city’s transport department, Transport for London, it is sponsored by Santander Bank (originally sponsored by Barclays) and operated by SERCO, a private company, on a six-year contract with service level benchmarks. The system that started with 5000 cycles in 2010 has expanded to 11,500 cycles today, serving 5-7 trips per cycle everyday.
Successful implementation of a cycle sharing system requires meticulous planning and oversight on the part of the government. Private sector participation can bring several advantages, including access to capital and technical expertise. But, constant oversight by the public implementing agency is necessary to ensure that the system meets high service quality standards. The contracting structure should create the right incentives by rewarding good work and penalising poor performance. In order to evaluate the operator’s performance, the implementing agency needs access to real-time system data.
What are the features of a good system?
To begin with, a system should have at least a 1000 cycles with a coverage of five square kilometres or more. Anything smaller is unviable and almost always fails. For instance, Smartbike DC in Washington DC failed to exist with ten stations and 120 cycles. It shut down in a year. Capital Bikeshare replaced it successfully with 1100 cycles connecting a 100 stations. Today, the system has three times as many stations and 2500 cycles. The most successful systems have over 5000 cycles; the largest ones have even more. The system in Hangzhou, the world’s largest, has over 80000 cycles.
Cycle sharing stations should be spaced closely—in a grid of 300m or less—so that users can get a-near-doorstep service. A fully automated system removes the need for staffing at a station. The number of docks in a system (where cycles are locked) is 1.5 to 2 times the number of cycles in operation. A typical station has 12-15 docks. Stations at some important locations, like public transport terminals, can be larger, with 30-50 cycles placed inside an enclosure, accessed through one or more automated control gates.
Technology plays a key role in cycle sharing—from safeguarding cycles from theft, to giving real time information to users as well as operators. Chips embedded in a smart card or tag (issued at the time of registration) allow users to unlock cycles from automated stations and docking points. Users get information on station location as well as availability of cycles through web based portals and mobile applications. Operators use the data collected to redistribute cycles from saturated stations to empty ones to ensure availability at all locations. Data also helps in planning future expansion of the system.
The overall appearance of the cycle is a key element in the branding of a cycle sharing system. It should project a sleek, modern image. Cycle should have specially designed parts and sizes to discourage theft. Operators must conduct regular and frequent maintenance of cycles. A cycle with a flat tyre or a broken chain is of no use. Users should be able to notify an operator if a cycle needs repair with just a push of a button at a station. For instance, the maintenance team should clean the cycles and inflate tyres every alternate day. Once every fortnight, things like drive chain lubrication and functioning of brakes should be checked. Once a year, a full overhaul is recommended.
What cycle sharing is not
Cycle sharing is often confused with cycle rental systems. Cycle sharing is a technology-based self-service system that differs in significant ways from the traditional commuting or tourism-oriented rental services that are present in many parts of India. Shared cycles give the user flexibility to pick and drop a cycle at any station, encouraging short trips and providing last mile connectivity. Rentals are small scale businesses with pricing models that encourage longer trips. Users have to return the cycle where they picked it up from.
Cycle sharing systems are also not a replacement for large-scale cycle distribution schemes. These programs, generally aimed at rural users, have a strong focus on poverty alleviation. It is important to recognize that cycle sharing is not necessarily for the poorest of the poor, but an alternative for short trips done by paratransit, bus, or walking. Many low-income residents already own and use cycles because they cannot afford to use any other mode, even public transport. A critical aim of cycle sharing is to attract new users who would not otherwise use cycles. By broadening the cycle user base and raising the profile of cycling in a city, cycle sharing can build a constituency for improved cycle infrastructure, which benefits all cyclists, rich and poor alike.
What is the future of cycle sharing in India?
Over the past decade, there have been over a dozen experiments—all of them very small in size—in various parts of India. Some were non-profit enterprises; others were commercially driven. Many were, at best, cycle rentals; others were just advertising contracts in the garb of cycle sharing. It would be a fair to say that there is not a single shared cycle in operation in India at present.
In 2012, on behalf of the Ministry of Urban Development (Government of India), the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) prepared a planning toolkit for India cities on public cycle sharing systems. The Ministry has been actively encouraging cities to adopt this idea. A positive sign is the large number of cities that were selected in the first round of the India Smart Cities Challenge identified cycle sharing as a key initiative in their proposals.
Cycle sharing is an idea whose time has come in India. Many Indian cities are at an advanced stage of planning, or even implementation. According to calculations by ITDP, the top hundred Indian cities should have invested by the year 2031 in over over six hundred thousand shared cycles—along with many other sustainable transport facilities—to become truly smart. It remains to be seen if India will emulate the success of its neighbour, China!
The article was first published in Urbana World, May-Jun 2016.
One of India’s fastest growing business and IT hubs, Pune has been constantly planning and executing sustainable initiatives even before India envisaged the Smart City Mission. For many Indian cities, the national initiative is its first step towards sustainability. However, for Pune, the mission acted as a catalyst. It significantly boosted confidence of the city administration, who not only fast tracked implementation of existing projects, but also expanded their scope and added many new projects to the city’s kitty. The city is making rapid progress in expanding its bus rapid transit (BRT) network, strengthening its public transportation system and implementing projects to make its streets pedestrian and cyclist friendly.
On account of its successes, late June 2016, Pune was selected as the destination for the first anniversary celebrations of India’s smart city mission. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who graced the occasion, launched 84 projects across 20 smart cities. Of these projects, 14 were from Pune. The new projects will give the city the required thrust to make IT based improvements in its public transport system.
Pune’s high quality mass transit system—Rainbow BRT, launched in September 2015—is witnessing constant expansion. The city is exploring ways to converge different funding sources and further strengthen the system. While a new 8 km corridor is planned under Smart City’s area based development in Aundh-Baner-Balewadi region (ABB), the city’s progressive 2016-17 budget has allocated funding for two more corridors, which will expand the Rainbow network by 15 km. In addition, the “pilot” BRT corridors will be redesigned with “Rainbow” style median stations to provide level boarding.
Similarly, the city bus service is also undergoing a massive transformation. The city is investing heavily on expanding its fleet size—by almost doubling the operational fleet. Pune’s existing bus fleet of about 2,055 buses will be augmented with an addition of 1550 buses by 2017—to achieve 25% of total trips by public transport. As part of the Smart City Mission, Pune will improve bus services through ITMS and real-time tracking of all its buses. A central control centre will monitor driving quality of buses and services at all levels. The city has also embarked on developing websites, mobile apps, and passenger information systems to give commuters critical information on expected time of arrival of buses and schedules. A common mobility card—‘Mobility Integration (MI)’—has been launched to enable cash-free payments on public transport systems.
The city is also looking towards improving conditions for its pedestrians and cyclists. Most arterial roads in the city will be redesigned as ‘Complete Streets’—including 45 km of streets in the ABB region under the smart city proposal and 100 km of streets across the city through PMC budget. To re-establish its cycling culture, Pune is developing a cycle plan for the city, with an objective of increasing the cycling modal share from today’s 9% to 25% by 2031. A bicycle sharing system is also proposed in the ABB region. To ensure that quality remains consistent during the planning, designing and implementation of its non-motorised transport initiatives, the city is setting up a street design cell, as well as adopting a pedestrian policy and urban street design guidelines.
Pune’s commitment to improving mobility is placing the city as a leader in India, on sustainable transport and development. By embracing the direction set by the national mission and expanding its scope across the city using both national and city funding, Pune is setting a benchmark for all other cities in the Indian urban panorama.
Cover picture source: www.punesmartcity.in