To Tame the World’s Most Dangerous Traffic, New Delhi Turns to Bike Lanes

delhi_street_1.jpg(Photo: DaveBleasdale via Flickr)

Delhi,
home to over 12 million people and the seat of India’s national
government, is widely considered to have the most dangerous traffic in
the world.

As The Guardian wrote recently,
traffic safety in Delhi basically consists of "good horns, good brakes,
good luck." Nationally, crashes in India killed more than 130,000
people — 85 percent of whom were pedestrians and cyclists — in 2007
alone.

As of last week, however, one piece of Delhi’s solution seems clear: bike lanes on all major roads. 

One
month after a local bicycle advocacy group, the Delhi Cycling Club,
sent a list of demands to the Delhi government, Chief Minister Sheila
Dikshit announced
that all major streets will be retrofitted with bike lanes. "In
a city like Delhi, cycling would be the most effective mode of
transport to combat pollution and congestion on the roads," wrote
Dikshit.

From press accounts, it’s not exactly clear whether the new network would consist entirely of physically separated lanes,
which currently exist along the city’s bus rapid transit corridors.

A network of physically separated lanes would be especially useful in a city where traffic laws go largely unenforced. There are 110 million traffic violations in Delhi every day, according to the Guardian.

Delhi’s investment in a cycling future comes not a moment too soon. Last year’s introduction of the Tata Nano, a car priced at $2,000, has threatened to flood the city’s already full streets with even more automobiles and even worse gridlock.

  • I don’t know how this is going to work. When I was in Delhi, the city was busy ripping up their city to install Los Angeles style freeway-like highways through the middle of town. There is a large, entitled, middle class that feels they are owed the right to drive right into the center of the city as if they were royalty. This brigade of maniacs shrugs and blames dead pedestrians for getting hit and not walking fast enough.

    If Delhi has turned the corner, and is going to embrace cycling, that would be a huge change in a very short period of time.

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