In an attempt to reduce smog in the world’s most polluted city, Delhi began restricting driving on the New Year with odd/even license plate restrictions through January 15. Residents made do by using other forms of transportation, by cheating, and by gaming the system.
Last Friday, I watched and briefly participated in an online chat regarding the Bike Shops for Everyone report recently published by the League of American Bicyclists. Liz Cornish, who ran the League’s Women Bike program before becoming director of Baltimore’s bike advocacy organization this month, works to encourage the bike industry to reach out to women.
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.
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