The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Transport, Tourism and Culture in its report (Report 243) on the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016, which has been tabled in the Parliament to help improve Road Safety, has recommended penalizing pedestrians and cyclists and restricting movement of non-motorised vehicles on highways and main roads of metro cities, labelling them as a hazard and nuisance to others.
Earlier a new Section 138(1A) was introduced in the Motor Vehicles Act to allow State Governments to make rules for non-motorized vehicles, which have so far not been under the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Parisar along with other civil society organisations and SUM Net members and experts have pointed out that this recommendation is totally contrary to the principles outlined in the National Urban Transport Policy 2006 and the recent AMRUT and Smart City guidelines which speak of promoting walking, cycling and exclusive lanes for non-motorised transport and encouragement of their use. Reacting to the proposal, Prof. Geetam Tiwari of IIT Delhi, an expert in urban mobility and road safety, stated that this would take the urban mobility agenda back 50 years. SUM Net member, Rishi Agarwal, who has launched The Walking Project in Mumbai, pointed out that cities can only be safer when adequate provisions are made for pedestrians and cyclists and not by banning or restricting them. Pune for instance has recently created Urban Street Design Guidelines and is revamping streets to make much wider footpaths and cycle tracks.
A letter strongly objecting to these recommendations has been sent to Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways by SUM Net, a national coalition of civil society organisations promoting sustainable urban mobility. The Ministry is currently in the process of revising the Bill based on the PSC report. The letter urges the Ministry to reject this recommendation of the PSC, to entirely delete Section 138(1A) and make a new Non-Motorized Vehicles Act.
The letter can be found here.