Promoting cycling in Imphal Going smart ?

Going smart. And bicycle is going to be one of the more important components that make up the whole of making Imphal live up to the understanding of a Smart City. This is what may be read into the launch of the app based bicycle sharing system on September 27 and this is a welcome move. Not clear how many would take to the new initiative of the Government, but the merits of cycling should be clear to all. Funny it is, but cycles or ekagari a term used by the elder generations some 30 or even 40 year back was the primary means of communication. People who grew up in the 70s and 80s  will surely recall the days when going to school meant cycling all the way to school and back home after school hour. Going to the market also meant taking the cycle and even going to the movie, say at Shanker Talkies, Pratap Cinema or Usha Cinema and later at Asha and Jina. It was then a sort of a compulsion for every cinema hall in Imphal to have a cycle shed and one could keep the cycle at the shed while watching a movie, all for a fee obviously. Humber, Hercules, Raleigh and later Hero were some of the more popular cycle brands. Buying used or second hand bicycles for the children to go to school was the accepted practise amongst many of the middle and lower middle class family in Imphal and beyond. However with  people acquiring more buying power with the passing years, cycles started giving way to two wheelers and in came the Luna, Hero Majestic, Bajaj 150, Bajaj Chetak and Bajaj Super and the motorbikes from Yezdi, Yamaha and later the 100 CC bikes from Yamaha 100, the Hero Honda, Kawasaki Bajaj etc. It did not take long for the people to switch over to the four wheelers from there and Manipur like the rest of the country saw a sort of a revolutionary change in how people commute with the coming of iconic Maruti 800. Today every single family unit in Imphal seem to have a four wheeler  at their disposal and thanks to the open market system now, people no longer need to book their vehicle, wait for months to get it delivered as the same may be driven straight out of the showroom or garage of the car agent by paying the price. With banks more than ready to offer car loans, it is now within the reach of almost everyone to buy a brand new car and pay the price in monthly instalment via what is called the Equated Monthly Instalment over a period of time.
It is obvious that road space or driving lanes and even parking space has not been able to keep pace with the fast changing mode of how people commute from one place to another. The downside is there for all to see and today even a walk down any major road in Imphal can be said to be a sort of a nightmare. Cars, three wheelers (auto taxis), two wheelers now jostle for space on any road in Imphal on a daily basis  and with people not developing their traffic sense as fast as their ability to become an owner of a brand new car, what one sees on the road is total chaos and confusion. This is besides the inter-district and inter-State buses which today have no place to park at the ISBT and so have to do at North AOC and other vacant places adding to the traffic chaos. It is here that the call to the people to go back to the cycle of yesteryears should be seen. However things are not as plain and simple as this. Already a number of people have started sharing their concern that the absence of cycling lanes would amount to exposing the cyclist to the danger of being knocked down or overrun by any of the speeding vehicles on the road. This voice of concern is not without reason. It can be a nightmare for any staff of The Sangai Express to cycle through the traffic chaos daily to attend office, say from Thangmeiband to the office at Sega Road, Thouda Bhabok Leikai along the airport road ! Just citing an example, but a reality it is and all endeavours to promote cycling should go hand in hand with efforts to make cycling safer for the cyclists.