Dedicated cycle lane
I was taken aback, though with sheer excitement, to read the news that Lalitpur Metropolitan City (LMC) had made and implemented a dedicated cycle lane from Kupondole to Mangal Bazaar. Being a frequent commuter on that route, I, wondered how in so little a time it could have been possible.
With much optimism, I made my way to experience the much-anticipated dedicated cycle lane. Unfortunately, what was highlighted in the news was nowhere near my anticipation. The dedicated cycle lane has come into effect by investing in some white paint that was used to divide the existing lane, confusing both the motorists and even cyclists, only making the bad situation worse. I was then convinced how the lane was created in such a short span of time. But in doing so, it made the space narrower for other vehicles on a road that sees heavy traffic throughout the day.
I would call it a double whammy than an achievement, which LMC is boasting about. My experience during visits to different countries has been that a cycle lane should be separated from the main road, so that there is no conflict with other motorised vehicles. This is done to add to the safety of the cyclists. The Separated Bike Lanes Planning and Design Guide, USA, suggests that separated bike lanes are separated bicycle facilities that run alongside a roadway and is separated from the automobile traffic by a physical barrier, such as parked cars, bollards, a landscaped buffer, or a curb.
When I took a little ride on that dedicated lane, none of the vehicles gave priority to me. The lane was heavily encroached by other vehicles. Motorcyclists and motorists used it for over-taking, public vehicles and taxis used it to look out for their clients.
The ordeal finally came to an end, and in the process, I seldom saw cyclists using that dedicated lane. Instead I frequently encountered reckless driving of vehicles, as most of them, seemed to be unaware about its purpose.
Also, it is almost next to impossible for the traffic police not to allow other vehicles to ply on that dedicated lane, as it has not been made with proper planning. It is just some mark on the main road, adding to the traffic chaos. With the growing number of vehicles in the capital, if the local government engages in such unplanned activities, it will only worsen the situation. A dedicated cycle lane should be the privilege of cyclists alone.