Kolkata India bans bikes

I was just going to tweet this link but there’s an especially annoying video popup, so I’ll summarize here and you can click through and read the full story for yourself if you would like.

According to the International Business Times, police in Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India have banned bicycles from most streets to “relieve chronic traffic congestion” [ha!] and to “thwart potential terror attacks.” According to the IB Times story, city authorities claim that “cycles slow down traffic and removing them will make the streets safer and traffic speedier.” [Ha!]

Bicycle bombs are not unknown in Kolkata, though car bombs and bomb throwing miscreants are also not unheard of. Over 450 people are killed by cars every year in Kolkata, vs something like two deaths once a decade by terrorist bike bomb. Air pollution is believed to kill at least 2500 people every year in Kolkata.

Kolkata bicycle and environmental activists point out that bicycles remain a primary means of mobility for a majority of residents and workers in this third largest city in India, with bikes outnumbering cars according to the city’s own official traffic surveys.

Social activist Medha Patkar petitioned West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, to revoke the ban. She rote that bicycles are socially inclusive, directly support livelihoods and are inexpensive. “They take up much less space and are good for the environment and health and least likely to cause jams and accidents,” she wrote to the minister.

More in depth from the BBC: Why has India’s Calcutta city banned cycling?

One comment

  • Bike-Scoot
    October 1, 2013 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    They are only the 11th worst city in the world for air pollution. Maybe by getting rid of bikes they could make the top 5. They can replace their banned bikes with decades old motorcycles and run that great low emission black market fuel as a low cost alternative to biking.

    http://www.numbeo.com/pollution/rankings.jsp

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