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Karachi badly needs cycling, pedestrian tracks
[February 04, 2009]

Karachi badly needs cycling, pedestrian tracks

Karachi, Feb 04, 2009 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) --
To concept of nonmotorized transport, mainly based on cycling and walking, is gaining popularity in the whole world. Recently, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has decided to construct some 580 kilometers of cycling and walking tracks on various Dubai roads in a bid to encourage people cover short distances without using private cars. However, the city planners of Karachi still to recognize the importance of this novel and innovative concept and introduce it to the biggest city of Pakistan, for the benefit of its millions of commuters.

The basic purpose of constructing exclusive cycling and pedestrian tracks in the congested urban areas is to shift some load from motorist-based public transport like buses and surface and metro rail systems. This not only provides is workable solution to the urban transport problem, but also helps in reducing traffic congestions and air and noise pollution.

Cycling is considered as the backbone of nonmotorized transport systems in the congested urban areas. Cycling delivers the fastest door-to-door journey in urban areas in every contemporary independent study, as average motor traffic speeds in big towns and cities drop to less than half the average cycle speed and the delays of walking to and from car parks, bus stops and train stations add non-productive time to your journey. Cycling also eliminates waiting at the stop for your connection, driving around looking for a parking space, and queuing to get in - and out - of a big car park.

Cycling is congestion free. There are no parking charges and no fighting for a place to park a cycle. Parking is a vital element in delivering cycling as transport. In cities where car parking is scarce, fewer people use the private car (less than 50% of Inner London households own a car).

For the environment - cycling is pollution free and noise free. It also improves health. Cycling regularly will improve your fitness and helps maintaining a healthy weight. It also saves money, because it is the cheapest mode of transport.

Using cycles purely as a means of transport is also called utility cycling. It is the most common type of cycling in the world. In the Chinese city of Beijing alone, there are an estimated four million bicycles in use (it has been estimated that in the early-1980s there were approximately 500 million cyclists in China). As of 2000, there were an estimated 80 million bicycles in Japan, accounting for 17% of commuter trips, and in the Netherlands, 27% of all trips are made by bicycle. In New York City, more than half of all households do not own a car (the figure is even higher in Manhattan, over 75%), and walk/bicycle modes of travel account for 21% of all modes for trips in the city.

Utility cycling generally involves travelling short and medium distances (several kilometers). It includes commuting, going to school, high school or college, running errands, and delivering goods or services.

In cities, the bicycle courier is often a familiar feature, and freight bicycles are capable of competing with trucks and vans particularly where many small deliveries are required, especially in congested areas.

Utility cycling is believed to have several social and economic benefits. Policies that encourage utility cycling have been proposed and implemented for reasons including: improved public health, individual health and employers profits, a reduction in traffic congestion and air pollution, improvements in road-traffic safety, improved quality of life, improved mobility and social inclusiveness, and benefits to child development.

The cycling infrastructure comprises all the public ways that are available to cyclists travelling from one destination to another. This includes the same network of public roads that is available for other road vehicle users, minus those roads from which cyclists have been banned (most freeways), plus additional routes that are not available to other types of vehicle, such as cycle tracks and (in some jurisdictions) sidewalks.

Aspects of the cycling infrastructure may be viewed as either cyclist-hostile or as cyclist-friendly. In general, roads infrastructure based on prioritising certain routes in an attempt to create a state of constant flow for vehicles on that route, will tend to be hostile to those not on that route.

To boosting cycling it is necessary to adopt traffic reduction methods. Removing traffic can be achieved by straightforward diversion or alternatively reduction. Diversion involves routing through-traffic away from roads used by high numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. Examples of diversion include the construction of arterial bypasses and ring roads around urban centres.

Traffic reduction can involve direct or indirect methods. A highly effective indirect method of reducing motor traffic, and facilitating cyclist and pedestrian use, is to adopt the shared space system. This system, by giving equal priority to all road users, and by removing conventional road markings, road signs and road conventions, capitalises on the tendency for all road users to respect and trust each other when they are interacting on an equal basis.

Other indirect methods involve reducing the infrastructural capacity dedicated to moving or storing road vehicle. This can involve reducing the number of road lanes, closing bridges to certain vehicle types and creating vehicle restricted zones or environmental traffic cells.

Direct traffic reduction methods can involve straightforward bans or more subtle methods like road pricing schemes or road diets. The use of segregated cycle facilities such as cycle lanes and cycle tracks is often advocated as a means of promoting utility cycling. It is said that the provision of separate cycling facilities appears to be one of the keys to the achieving of high levels of cycling in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.

In Karachi where more than 40 commuters vie for a single bus seat, where the commuters are forced to travel on rooftops of buses, the concept of introducing non-motorized transport could greatly benefit the citizens. Karachi is one of the major urban cities of the world where road congestion is at its peak and where the use of cycling at the lowest. Constructing cycling and pedestrian tracks and no-vehicle zones in the congested down-town areas would not only facilitate commuters but also help reducing alarming air and noise pollution in the city.

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