Enabling Indian Cities to Adopt a Cycle-Friendly Urban Infrastructure
Most Indian cities are witnessing a continuous decline in bicycle usage. Despite the country being the second largest producer of bicycles in the world, there is a strong hesitancy in adopting cycling as a preferred mode for urban commute. However, as a recent study of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has pointed out “cycling is one of the most sustainable modes of transportation. It has numerous benefits in the form of zero dependence on fossil fuels, zero emissions and pollution, health benefits from increased physical activity, besides being an affordable means of mobility for low-income households (TERI, 2018).”
Under the framework of the Green Urban Mobility Partnership (GUMP) between India and Germany, the two countries have joint efforts to promote a cycle-friendly infrastructure in Indian cities. An essential prerequisite for the successful implementation of integrated cycle networks is the capacity development among representatives of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and city administrations.
In line with this, the Indo-German development cooperation projects ‘Sustainable Urban Mobility – Air Quality, Climate Action, and Accessibility (SUM-ACA)’ and ‘Green Urban Mobility Innovation Living Lab (GUMILL)’, in partnership with the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), Government of Karnataka organised a five-day capacity building workshop on ‘Cycling Infrastructure for Urban Environment’. More than sixty city officials from four states learnt from global best practices and discussed how to adapt them to local needs.
One of the world’s leading examples of a cycling nation are the Netherlands. The country has more bikes than citizens and has established a vivid biking culture. However, their status as a cycling nation wasn’t always a given. It took a lot of hard work, and forward-thinking policies to get where they are. To learn from their experience, GIZ India collaborated with the Dutch Cycling Embassy – a public private network for sustainable bicycle inclusive mobility. With over 40 years of experience in bicycle policy and practical bicycle solutions, the Netherlands are a unique international testing ground. The Dutch Cycling Embassy aims at sharing this expertise and technology to facilitate cycling worldwide as the most modern, efficient, and sustainable method of transport.
The capacity building workshop was divided into two parts: Classroom sessions to delve into the theoretical details of planning, designing, and implementing bicycle networks, with a focus on national and state policies, as well as site visits to explore practical feasibility. The training programme followed a participatory approach: using case studies from the field, participants deepened their understanding of how to integrate bicycles into existing transportation systems and thus making them more sustainable and diversified.
“A cycling-friendly infrastructure has many benefits for our cities, but how should we start implementing it? This was one of the key questions we asked ourselves. Through interactive group activities and concrete examples, we came to understand which success factors really matter, especially with regard to spatial planning, multi-modal integration, and the design of bike lanes. We need to focus on bike-centric urban planning that considers the bicycle as the normal mode of transport”, shared one of the participants.
Another important aspect that must not be overlooked is how to create an inclusive environment that takes into consideration the special needs of transport users with limited mobility. Following the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ which is a fundamental part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the workshop participants discussed possible solutions to create an inclusive cycling infrastructure. For example, an inclusive intersection design allows cyclists with disabilities to participate in road traffic.
The relevance of the topic was further underlined by the presence of various dignitaries, including Mr. Achim Burkart, German Consul General for Bangalore, and Mr. Ewout Wit, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for South India. Both highlighted the need for cooperative efforts to contribute to a better, healthier, and cleaner future worldwide. In this context, the workshop acts as blueprint for successful Indo-German-Dutch cooperation.
In addition, the capacity building workshop contributed to the promotion of green mobility which is one of the key objectives outlined in the Green and Sustainable Development Partnership (GSDP) between India and Germany. By training sixty government officials from four Indian states a potential total population of 198 million people will benefit from the improved capacities in sustainable urban transport planning. The GSDP is at the centre of GIZ India’s work. With a portfolio of more than 100 ongoing projects along the four thematic areas of Energy, Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity, Sustainable Urban and Industrial Development as well as Sustainable Economic Development, GIZ India is supporting the German and Indian Governments in implementing the Partnership.
The Indo-German development cooperation project ‘Sustainable Urban Mobility - Air Quality, Climate Action, Accessibility (SUM-ACA)’ is implemented by GIZ India and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India. The project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and aims at enabling national, state, and municipal institutions to promote climate and environmentally friendly, low emission and socially balanced urban mobility systems.
The ‘Green Urban Mobility Innovation Living Lab’ in Bangalore, the first of its kind in India was set up in 2022 with the aim to enhance the urban mobility and transportation system in India with sustainable, inclusive, and smart mobility solutions. GIZ India in collaboration with Bosch Limited has set up the Living Lab to enable an industry-led, multi-stakeholder platform for innovation, collaboration, and prototyping in the urban mobility sector. The initiative is supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India, and funded through the develoPPP programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Both projects are part of the Green Urban Mobility Partnership (GUMP) between Germany and India.