NAPM Open Letter to West Bengal Government against Ban on Cycling

Kolkata, India

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) sent an Open Letter to the Chief Minister of West Bengal following a blanket ban on cycling on 174 roads in Kolkata City.  In the open letter, NAPM states that they are against the banning order, which is is not only in violation of the National Urban Transport policy of 2006 that encourages non-motorized forms of transport but also an assault on livelihoods of working class people. Millions of poor and working class people in Kolkata are dependent on these forms of transport for earning an honest living and also commute within the city.

Traffic Police through May 29 2013 Gazette Notification has passed an order to ban cycles, hand cart, pull cart, tri-cycles and other forms of non-motorised roads from 174 major and minor streets in the Kolkata city.  In 2008, the Kolkata Traffic Police  had iintially prohibited cycling on 38 major thoroughfares. Despite earlier protests by cyclists and environment groups, instead of removing the ban, more roads were added to the list.  While on some roads cycling is prohibited altogether, in most cases cycles are not allowed to ply between 7 am and 11 pm.

Facts on Cycling in Kolkatta:

  • Data of the Union Ministry of Urban Development shows people in Kolkata make nearly 2.5 million cycle trips a day, second only to Delhi.
  •  Kolkata is the only metropolitan city in India where trips by cycle (11 per cent) outnumber trips by cars (8 per cent).
  • Traffic accident data for West Bengal (2011) shows only 1.5 per cent of road accidents happen due to fault of cyclists against 71 per cent due to faults of motor vehicle drivers
  • Cycles do not slow down vehicular traffic. Average speed of traffic in Kolkata varies between 14-18 km/ hour. The national average is 22 km/hour

For the full-text of the letter, please click here