Irony of Lucknow's Cycle Tracks

Irony of Lucknow's Cycle Tracks

Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, fondly known as the ‘City of Nawabs’ or the ‘City of Tehzeeb’ has always been a city filled with varied culture, beautiful sprawling gardens, polite mannerisms, fine-cuisine, music, and poetry (Shayari).


Today, it is known as one of the most important cities of the country which is now emerging in various sectors like retailing, manufacturing and commercial. It has witnessed new numerous projects in the city such as the Lucknow-Agra expressway, Metro stations, Gomti Riverfront; International Cricket Stadium and many more. Apart from these, the City of Nawabs had also witnessed an initiative by the state government to be a part of the smart cities race – laying of cycle tracks in the city.

The former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav got inspired by the dedicated cycle tracks in the Netherlands during his visit to Amsterdam in September 2014 and observed that cycling was a common mode of transportation in the Netherlands. He then instructed officials in Uttar Pradesh to plan cycling corridors in order to take a greener approach to transportation as cycling could lead to a healthy way of living and create a greener, pollution-free environment, which in turn could lead to the development of a smart city.


Facts :- Lucknow did not have proper footpaths for pedestrians few years back, so this 100km-long cycle track project proved to be an added advantage for pedestrians as well. Approximately 150,000 people in Uttar Pradesh use cycles as a means of their commute, commonly used by school kids and daily wagers. The work began with a scheme in Lucknow, where the proposal is that the completed project will give the city the largest cycle path network in India, covering up to 270 kilometres. The first cycle track in Lucknow was inaugurated at Kalidas Marg on 1 March 2015. A 35-km stretch costing Rs 31 Crore was constructed in the city. Many other areas where these cycle tracks were laid included Airport Road, Bakshi Ka Talab, Bangla Bazaar, Telibag, Vikas Nagar, Kursi Road, Nirala Nagar, Aliganj, Hazaratganj, Mahanagar, Kapoorthala, Chinhat and Gomtinagar.

Public Service or Political Stunt :- There is another political angle to this story. The Lucknow cycle track was Akhilesh Yadav’s dream project, and he was determined for ensuring its construction. However, his idea of creating an eco-friendly transport infrastructure, without creating awareness for it has turned out to be a disaster. Earlier, the opposition had accused his government of constructing the tracks in order to promote their election symbol – the bicycle. Besides, the cycle tracks have red and green colored pillars, mimicking the SP flag. Here the question arises – were these cycle tracks built actually for the public or was it just another political campaign stunt?

Useful or Hurdle :- A reality check shows these neatly constructed cycle tracks are not being used for the purpose they were built for. The tracks are being used for everything else than cycling. 

Illegal Parking :- The picture that we observe across the city is that the Hazaratganj cycle track has been converted into an illegal parking area, some of the tracks in VIP areas like those on the Golf Club, the Kalidas Marg and the Vikramaditya Marg have been occupied by squatters. The scenario that Akhilesh Yadav dreamt for rebuilding the city is now showing its repercussions. The already narrow roads have been further shrunken by these cycle tracks.

Cyclist on main road:- Majority of the cyclists still use the main roads for commuting due to various reasons, like disconnect in the tracks, vehicles parking on them, street vendors using them as business platforms, squatters sleeping on them, debris dumping, etc. Even if a cycle rider chooses to ride on the cycle track, he/she is forced to return to the main road where the tracks are not connected. So, riding on the main road is more convenient than the cycle track.

No space infront of Houses:- Many local residents complain that the space outside their houses, where they use to park their vehicles, have been used for construction of these tracks, hence they do not have any place to park their vehicle. So, they park their vehicle on the tracks. Further, their construction has resulted in road congestion, especially during peak school and office hours. 

Vendors :- Similarly, street hawkers and vendors who used to sell their stuff by the roadside, grumble that their space has been used for constructing cycle tracks and now they do not have any place to do their business.

Other Obstacles :- The major obstacles that people face here are bill boards, trees, improper lighting, disconnected tracks and squatters. Despite these obstacles, a chunk of the local population still uses the cycle tracks for walking, cycling; and various purposes.

Current Scenario :- After the formation of the new BJP Government in UP, the new CM Yogi Adityanath stated that if these tracks are not benefiting the general public, then they shall be removed. But before deciding their fortune, the BJP Government is conducting a study on their utility to the public. Now, the fate of these cycle tracks solely depends on the BJP regime. 


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