is this a little too soon?

Mysore is a wonderful city, feels like a Town as its human scale and hasn’t YET been irrepairably damaged by over-development. Its a great place to cycle and our many MyCycle tour guests are a testament to this. However, I worry that there is the risk that half-baked projects might do more harm than good.

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We already have the first dedicated cycle lane that I’ve ever seen in India. We also have cycle lines on main roads formed by a white line. (no, its not a joke, its real. Yes, in a country where no one takes any notice of lines on roads!)

In my view they do no harm and are a great asset but on their own withough being part of wider infrastructure changes, effective measures to educate other road users and promotions for people to take up cycling, it has limited value.

Here are yesterday’s guests on our Mysore tour on the cycle lane.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been consulted on the viability of a cycle share scheme on the lines of the one first developed in Paris and subsequently copied by cities such as London. In places they’ve been a great success, in others an abject failure. This morning on my (occasional ) cycle back down Chamundi Hill I saw this…

It looks like its the installation of shelters for a cycle hire scheme. In principle that’s fantastic, the more measures to promote cycling, the merrier, but might it just be a little too soon, particualrly if its not part of a wider programme to support cycling?

My worry is that currently cycling is seen as a traditional activity of the poor villager or something for the crazy foreigners. Admittedly we’re seeing a dramatic increase in cycling as a leisure activity and the fact is we get a fair number of enquiries for cycle hire at MyCycle BUT many are the early adopters, the young people who are particualrly interested in high end cycles and going out on races! The question is will the mass, the people in the middle of the ‘market’ buy into cycling in Mysore and use the cycle hire scheme. I’m not sure that they will and it might be a bit early.

I hope I’m wrong and a good friend of ours may take on a role helping research take-up and help develp the initiatve. I worry that if it fails it will set back the progress of cycling in Mysore. You know the sort of thing… “promoting cycling? we tried that with a scheme, in 2017 but it didn’t work so no point promoting cycling again”. I reckon it will only work if its part of a wider programme to educate other road users, infrastructure development, promote safe cycling in schools and encourage young people (and especially women) to continue cycling as they get older.

I’ve developed lots of projects over the years and in my view its critical to understand the patterns of behaviours in a particular community (interest or locality) and build on that and not to blindly parachute in ideas from elsewhere, which might have worked in one place but need significant amendment and careful timing to work in another.

Many people worry about cycling in the city but are nicely surprised once they join a properly guided tour and they gain the confidence to go out on their own. Its no accident that our most popular tours by a very long way are in the low traffic routes on Srirangapatnam.

A better idea might have been cycle hire shop(s) in places where there are a network of potential cycle routes. That’s not a big capital scheme that reflects well on the powers that be so it would not be favoured. I know of such a place. It’s where our most popular cycle tour is held 😉 I’d wait to introduce automated cycle hire schemes to a time when there is more of a critical mass of cycle users, tamed traffic and more dedicated cycle lanes in the traffic intensive built up areas.

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