Active Transportation is an effective mode to decrease environmental & health problems and improve the economic vitality in large urban agglomerations. This brief is focussed on the state of Karnataka, but applicable with tweaks everywhere else. Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) comprises walking, cycling, pushcarts and other modes which are generally human powered. Active Transport is hence an appropriate way of describing it. While regulation of motor vehicles is in the concurrent list as per our constitution, Active Transport is a state subject. Enabling the growth of Active Transport will achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In large urban centres, it’s also a way to alleviate congestion by increasing access to public transport which is a national imperative for growth goals. There have been guidelines from the central government but the states haven’t done much in terms of policy other than implementing isolated showcase projects.
Karnataka Non-Motorised Transport Authority (KNMTA1) has been set up under the Urban Development Department as a society to oversee Active Transport projects. This conflicts with the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA2) being contemplated for the Bengaluru Metropolitan Region to work with the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC3) set up as per the 74th amendment. There are structural and financial deficiencies in this approach that needs to be resolved. The brief addresses these deficiencies and provides the following recommendations.
- An act in the state assembly coordinated by KNMTA as the nodal agency to provide for the following
- A Government Order (GO) which assigns the burden of proof to a motor vehicle user in case of accidents between itself and a walker/cyclist.
- GO to introduce penalties on motor vehicles which cause injuries to walkers and cyclists in addition to IPC section 279 & 337
- Increase penalties for violation of section 208 of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Act
- GO to Introduce cycling and walking specific training & assessment at the Regional Transport Office (RTO) while issuing motor driving licenses
- All road contracts to be deemed incomplete if they do not provision for walking and cycling either integrated into the carriageway or specifically demarcated both with appropriate signboards.
- BBMP bye-laws to be amended for group housing (section 12) & industrial buildings (section 13) to ensure no road has a width below 12 meters is allowed and specifically mention pedestrian & cycle facility.
- The act needs to have economic disincentives on
- private vehicle use like parking fees and congestion charging to influence behaviour and avoid collective action problem.
- Resolve jurisdiction issues between KNMTA & UMTA as per the following
- UMTA should be the planning body for all active transport initiatives the region under its control, where UMTA does not exist the KNMTA can perform the planning role.
- Active transport standards & rules to be set by KNMTA for the entire state and it will act as the nodal agency to make legislative policies
- UMTA contracts with BBMP or relevant ULB for the implementation of active transportation projects.
- All revenue from disincentives like parking or congestion charging should go to UMTA
- Introduce clauses in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules to include walker/cyclist blind spot detection & alerting systems in motor vehicles over time in collaboration with industry.