Invisible Cyclists and Disappearing Cycles

The Challenges of Cycling Policies in Indian Cities

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Cycles are fast disappearing from the urban landscape, popular culture, and everyday life in India. The marginalization of cycling is seen in the backdrop of an emerging automobile culture linked with rising incomes, post-liberalization and skewed notions of modernity. The continued dominance of motorized modes seeks to claim a larger share of road space mirroring the social power structure. The majority of urban cyclists in India are low-income workers or school-going children. Despite the emergence of a subculture of recreational cycling among higher-income groups, everyday cycling confronts social bias and neglect in urban policies and public projects. The rhetoric of sustainability and equity in the National Urban Transport Policy 2006 and pro-cycling initiatives in “best practice” transit projects are subverted by not building adequate enabling infrastructure. This article presents an overview of contentious issues related to cycling in Indian cities by examining the politics of inclusion and exclusion in urban policies.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies