Kochi Corporation to deal firmly with illegal parking

Those posing hurdles to cyclists and pedestrians to be penalised

With 2021 being declared as ‘The Year of Green Mobility in Kochi’ and projects being rolled out by Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML) and other agencies to promote non-motorised transport and walking, the Kochi Corporation has joined hands with key stakeholders to prevent parking and encroachments on bicycle lanes, footpaths, and walkways.

This comes in the wake of two-wheelers and other vehicles being parked in newly readied bicycle lanes, including near the corporation office on Park Avenue Road, although the lanes are discernible by their green colour and road markings.

“Bicycle riders and enthusiasts recently aired their concern to us and sought steps to ensure safe transit, especially through dedicated cycle lanes that have been readied [by CSML] on the Rajendra Maidan-Goshree Bridge arterial stretch,” said Mayor M. Anilkumar. This was followed by a meeting with officials of the Motor Vehicles Department, police, CSML, and Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), to chalk out a plan of action. An awareness programme among motorists has been envisaged, followed by enforcement and penalising of those posing hurdles to safe movement of bicycles and pedestrians.

An enforcement drive will be held on the stretch once work is completed to convert it into a smart road, he added.

Focus will then shift to creation of such dedicated spaces on other roads in the city, in keeping with the global trends, Mr. Anilkumar added. On whether bollards or railings will demarcate cycle lanes from the rest of the carrigeway, sources in CSML said the traffic police had doubts whether that would be feasible, especially when the entire width of the road might have to be used during heavy traffic. “Else, a policy-level decision ought to be taken by the agencies concerned,” they added.

A Road Safety Month campaign, jointly organised by the corporation, Transport Department, State government, and the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA) was launched on 17 February, under the ‘Integrated Sustainable Urban Transport Systems for Smart Cities’ (SMART-SUT) project, implemented by German agency GIZ and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), under the umbrella of Green Urban Mobility Partnership between India and Germany.

Road safety

Speakers at the function were of the view that the city ought to improve road safety, by improving public transport, walking, and cycling. These projects and plans promote the concept of locally inclusive, affordable, clean, green and safe mobility and include actionable measures to support areas like safe walking and cycling, road re-development work to improve their aesthetics and to make them inclusive for all road user groups, last-mile connectivity through electric autorickshaws, reviving public spaces and local heritage, making streets safer and navigable by providing way-finding maps, bus route rationalisation, and better urban freight management.

The corridor that is on the anvil between Ernakulam Junction and Town railway stations for pedestrians and non-motorised transport, is an example.

That Kochi will in October host ‘Urban Mobility India Conference’, India’s biggest annual event on urban mobility, has given impetus to projects being developed by various agencies towards achieving green mobility.

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