The state cabinet has approved a policy of allowing bicycles on all small and medium roads in Calcutta and other major urban areas to ease the hardship to reach offices and other destinations in the absence of metro and local trains.
“The Calcutta police and other police commissionerates will issue a notification mentioning small and medium roads where bicycles will be allowed. The decision has been taken considering that people are facing trouble to reach offices or work in the absence of metro,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said at Nabanna on Monday.
“People’s lives are most important…. Busy roads will be avoided to avert accidents. The Calcutta police and other police commissionerates will issue the list of roads after careful consideration.”
Calcutta police commissioner Anuj Sharma told The Telegraph: “We are working on a plan so that safety of cyclists is not compromised and… there is no disturbance to normal flow of traffic in the city.”
Cycling is banned 24X7 on 22 thoroughfares in the city, including Park Street, Theatre Road, Camac Street, Red Road, Lalbazar Street, Council House Street, Rawdon Street and all flyovers. On 40 other thoroughfares such as Chowringhee Road, Rashbehari Avenue, Central Avenue and some other roads, cycling is allowed from 11pm to 7am.
During the lockdown, many people had cycled to work on these thoroughfares. Police sources said traffic cops had not prosecuted them on humanitarian grounds.
“Usually, slow moving vehicles like a bicycle reduces the speed of other vehicles. That is the primary reason why they are not allowed on major thoroughfares. But we made an exception and did not prosecute cyclists during the lockdown as public transport was absent,” said an officer in the traffic police.
There are separate cycle tracks in several parts of the country for free movement of cycles.
Sources said the proposal — a temporary one because of non-availability of adequate public transport — was put forward by the heads of various departments after it was found that many employees could not reach office on Monday. Government offices started functioning with 70 per cent employees during the day.
Various employees unions said attendance in different departments was around 60 per cent on Monday.
“Many government employees stay in parts of North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly and depend on local trains and metro to reach office. These services are not available, so many employees could not reach office,” said a leader of the Trinamul-backed employees union.