Panelists discussing urban mobility suggested that infrastructure would encourage people to make sustainable choices like walking or cycling.

Bengalureans will buy cycles if you give them the infrastructure to ride ExpertsPhotograph via Andrew Baptist
news Transport Friday, July 17, 2020 - 18:24

Panelists at the Sustainable Mobility summit recently discussed solutions for public transport in Bengaluru during the pandemic. Among the solutions discussed was the need to develop infrastructure that encourages people to take up cycling. "Building infrastructure encourages people to take that step of actually buying a bicycle," says Sathya Sankaran, Bengaluru's Bicycle Mayor

The panelists suggested that infrastructure would encourage people to make sustainable choices like walking, cycling or using electric vehicles.

"Money spent on bicycling by the government in a year is less than the cost of building a road and yet dedicated cycling paths can potentially cover only 20% of Bengaluru," Sathya added.

The panelists included Sathya Sankaran, Bengaluru's Bicycle Mayor, Chetan Maini, co-founder of SUN-Mobility. and Rajeev Gowda, a former MP.  The summit was organised by the Bangalore International Centre. 

Sathya, who heads Citizens for Sustainability, has already put bicycles to use during the lockdown. A volunteer group of 75 cycle riders came together to help deliver essentials to elderly citizens across the city. The group publicised helpline numbers and delivered grocery items and medicines. According to him, bicycles offer a solution to the fears of commuting during a pandemic.   

A lockdown from 8 pm on July 14 to 5 am on July 22 has restricted movement once again in Bengaluru, prompting the city's residents to turn to internet-enabled mobility services at this time. 

In addition, more than half of Bengaluru either walks or uses buses but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced buses to stop operating this week and residents of the city to stay indoors.   

"If you make the city more walkable, or improve buses, it would create facilities for public transportation that more than half of the city's residents will use," Ashwin Mahesh, an urban expert in Bengaluru who moderated the discussion said. 

A discussion on Urban Mobility held in June 2020 (From left to right - Rajeev Gowda, PC Mohan, Sowmya Reddy, Gangambike Mallikarjun)

Chetan Maini called for more electric charging stations in the city to encourage more people to drive electric vehicles. "Infrastructure plays a big role in making people adopt sustainable transport. Scaling up electric charging stations in Bengaluru is one way of doing it," Chetan said. 

He added that during the pandemic, cycling would be a risk-free and cost-effective way of travelling within Bengaluru. 

Former MP Rajeev Gowda said that politicians are always open to implementing tangible ideas. "We are constantly looking for tangible ideas to be translated into policy. Organisations can come forward with a clear cut vision, money required and its impact," Rajeev said. 

In an earlier discussion focused on internet-enabled mobility services, Geetanjali Swamy, Head of Legal and Public Policy at Dunzo, said that business can use technology to empower local communities, such as merchants, something that Dunzo has already been working on.