Lalitpur on its way to becoming cycle-friendly city but Kathmandu lags behindA 22 km-long cycleway is being built in Lalitpur in the second phase but Kathmandu has so far failed to carry out its plan to build cycle lanes.
The second phase of cycle lane project is well underway in Lalitpur under which the city is building a 22 km-long cycleway.
“This is a continuation of our project to make Lalitpur a smart and eco-friendly city,” said Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan
Earlier, the city had inaugurated a 4.7km-long cycle lane between Kupondole and Mangal Bazar in November 2019.
Raju Maharjan, the spokesperson for the city, said more than 50 percent of the work, which involves painting cycle tracks, has already been completed.
“The work will be completed within this fiscal year,” he told the Post.
The city has extended its cycle lane from Jawalakhel to Satdobato as well as other inner road sections at Sanepa, Bhanimandal, Lagankhel and Sankhamul, among others.
While many have welcomed the work done by Lalitpur Metropolitan City towards promoting cycling, there are also those who think the project is doomed to fail as the city does not have roads wide enough to accommodate cyclists as well as motorists at the same time.
“What’s the point of creating cycle lanes on roads where two vehicles could hardly pass? It’s just a waste of money,” says Jwala Shrestha, a resident of Bakhundole.
The city officials, however, believe that the cycle lanes will encourage more people to cycle, thus addressing the concern of traffic congestion.
“I am confident that these cycle tracks will attract new cyclists,” said the city mayor.
Nepal Cycle Society, which promotes cycling as a healthy and sustainable mode of transportation, has lauded the city’s initiative.
“Instead of criticism, the city residents must support this project. Cyclists equally have their share on each and every road section and they must be assured the proteccion,” said Ratna Shrestha, the founder president of the society.
He also requested the city authority to repaint the fading cycle lanes and to ensure that the cycle tracks are exclusively reserved for cyclists.
“The city can deploy its police to monitor the cycle lane to make sure that other vehicles do not park or run on cycle lanes,” said Shrestha, whose organisation helped the city plan and design the cycle lanes.
While Lalitpur is well on its way to become a cycle-friendly city, the neighbouring Kathmandu Metropolitan City, despite being the most resourceful city in the country, has failed to carry out its plan to build cycle lanes on its roads.
A week after Lalitpur inaugurated the cycle lane in 2019, Kathmandu city too had announced its plan to build a 3.1 km cycle lane from Maitighar to Tinkune. But the plan has still not materialised.
Urban Designer Som Rana, vice-president of Nepal Cycle Society, says officials of Kathmandu Metropolitan City were never serious about the plan to build cycle lanes.
“It’s been four years since the city has got its elected representatives. Over the years they only announced their plan to build cycle lanes but never got working towards it,” said Rana.
In his election manifesto, Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya had promised to make Kathmandu an eco-friendly heritage city. Building cycle lanes in Kathmandu was on his list of 101-tasks in the first 100 days. More than four years have passed, and most of the tasks on his list remain unaccomplished.
In June last year, Kathmandu Metropolitan City had announced subsidies to its staff members for buying bicycles. The announcement was met by criticism because the city did not have any cycleways.
Saurav Dhakal, curator of Story Cycle, a platform that works for sustainable development through storytelling and digital mapping, says while Lalitpur has set an example Kathmandu has been a disappointment when it comes to building a cycle-friendly city.
“Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people using bicycles has gone up. If only Kathmandu city had worked towards making cycle-friendly roads, it would have encouraged many city residents to take up cycling,” said Dhakal.