Transportation facilities and activities have significant effects on our ecosystem. The concept of clean transportation is vital to ensure a safe environment and good quality of life on earth. Non-motorised transport (NMT) is one of the main elements of clean urban transport. NMT includes travel forms that do not rely on engines. Trips which are shorter in commute are easy to cover by non-motorised modes. These are also the highest trips in the travelling share in cities. On the one hand, private vehicles are growing globally due to their perks of safety, reliability and comfort. In comparison, cycling and walking are more active, healthy and social ways to commute.
Benefits of NMT:
Environmental Impact- Non- Motorised Transport is green and offers a low carbon footprint. The energy consumption is minimal and emissions are Zero.
Economic Impact- As NMT is not dependent on any fossil fuel, they thus, are inexpensive compared to motorised transport.
Social Impact – The modal share offers last-mile connectivity in cities. This is most suitable for compact cities having high-density areas.
Health Impact – Transportation in the form of walking and cycling has immense health benefits, as proven by research.
Several programs are operating globally to promote active transport. Constructing sidewalks, bike lanes, bike-sharing infrastructure, pedestrian-oriented development, etc., are a few approaches. The success of these, however, depends on many factors like Climate, Geography, Culture & Public awareness.
As per United Nations Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN), Non-Motorised Transport takes a larger share in developing countries than developed ones. However, the walking and cycling modal share decrease in developing countries with increased per capita income. At the same time, in the developed parts of the world, people slowly shift from cars to active mobility as a move towards sustainability. 70% of car trips within cities worldwide are less than 5km; converting them from private vehicles to non-motorised will boost sustainable transportation.
In India, cities are compact and yet witnessing substantial demand for mobility. Indian cities are expected to exceed 800 million inhabitants by 2050. Also, motorisation rates are increasing, putting strain on limited available resources of the cities. The resultant is polluted cities and congestion. In the early 80s, the share of NMT in the country ranged from 40-60%, as per one report by NITI Aayog. However, the trend has been declining in recent years. This decline stems from a lack of dedicated infrastructure with poor upkeep and maintenance. Further, the NMT usage is low due to inadequate safety measures – cyclists and pedestrians have the highest share of fatalities per MoRTH. The cities with their respective NMT share in the last four decades are listed below.
Graph Source: NITI Aayog Report on TRANSFORMING INDIA’S MOBILITY 2018.
Cities in India, with the help of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), are now gearing up to promote sustainable transportation in the region and adopt global practices to change the current scenario.
The Karnataka Government in Bengaluru city, in a pilot project, started with Self Service Bicycle Repair Kiosk. The city departments are at the forefront to develop and popularise active travel in the city. The government is considering publishing an Active Mobility Bill to protect the rights of cyclists and pedestrians. The bill aims to promote public spaces and streets with active travel, keeping in mind the needs of all road users.
The circumstances in the current transport system in India require changes in technology, energy, environment and space. As people in India are more transportation disadvantaged, they often rely on walking and cycling to access transit. With increased latent demand for non-motorised travel, people would walk and bicycle more frequently given proper infrastructure and facilities. The inclusion of NMT in urban areas must be considered as a way to reduce pollution, congestion and health issues for its citizens, making sustainable mobility go beyond social inclusion.