Stressing on the need to promote cycling as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said he would approach the Surface Transport and Urban Development Ministries for the development of cycle tracks along roads to transform cycling into a “huge movement in the country”.
Speaking at the release of Pedalling towards a greener India: A report on promoting cycling in the country’ by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Harsh Vardhan said, “I will personally write to Surface Transport and Urban Development Ministries and ask them to develop cycle tracks.”
He added that cycling needed to be promoted to ensure that physical activity was made a part of people’s lifestyle, which in turn would “take care of 50 per cent of their health”. He said diseases such as diabetes and hypertension could be largely handled by exercising.
The report finds that the growth of the cycle industry has been slow in the last decade, increasing only by 3 per cent despite most average trip lengths in the city being convenient for cycling.
Key recommendations in the report include ensuring provision and maintenance of cycling infrastructure in cities; making non-motorised transport (NMT) projects a mandatory requirement for Central funding; and, implementing citywide cycle-sharing schemes.
Director general of TERI R K Pachauri said, “Cycling as a means of providing mobility has substantial benefits, such as lower levels of air pollution and affordability for the poorest sections of society.”
The report also proposes that the government should “waive the taxes on cycles consumed by low-income population. If the 12 per cent tax component (6.8 per cent going to Central government and 5.2 per cent to state government) is absorbed by the government, the price of the cheapest cycle can be brought down and we can expect the cheapest cycles to cost in the range of Rs 2,500 — Rs 4,500,” the report said.
The report also stresses on the need to strengthen the bicycle industry, particularly with regard to its competitiveness in the global market and calls for technological upgradation and transfer support of the bicycle research and testing facility in Ludhiana.