Cycling lanes earmarked along a number of roads in Islamabad

Foreigners, local cyclists demand safety measures to minimize risk factor

Zubair Qureshi

Spending an off day cycling along the scenic Margalla Hills of Islamabad, its parks and orchards is an ideal leisure activity and one can see on weekends, cyclists enjoying a ride along the Margalla Road, Constitution Avenue, Jinnah Avenue and others enjoying themselves the beauty and greenery of the capital.
Master Plan of Islamabad includes separate lanes for cyclists and in early 1960s the Greek construction firm Doxiadis had earmarked these lanes along with the main roads and avenues to make the new capital of Pakistan a cyclist-friendly city. However, later due to selective changes in the Master plan, these lanes did not materialize.
Now after almost six decades Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) is reviving those lanes and has even earmarked a number of them.
These cycling lanes have been earmarked with orange, yellow and white colours and occasional road signs also indicate those roads are reserved for cyclists.
However, those who have international exposure are not happy with mere ‘painting’ of the roads.
While talking to Pakistan Observer, Secretary General of Islamabad Cyclists Association, Haroon General said the residents of the federal capital were happy at the launch of some cycling lanes by the Mayor of MCI some two years back, however, the plan was later left incomplete and the campaign to popularize cycling in the city was called off abruptly.
As in other capitals of the world, in Islamabad too, a large number of foreign community lives that prefers to ride bicycles on weekends and also for local movement and it would be a blessing for them if they found some routes reserved only for bicycling , said Haroon.
According to Josephine, a teacher of French language, on Islamabad’s busy high speed roads, merely painting a road is not sufficient the city managers need to segregate a cycling lane from the main route so that risk of accident could be minimized.
Another cyclist Shah Nawaz who has taken part in a number of cycling completions across the world while giving example of Beijing, said in China cycling is an integral part of people’s daily living and Beijing’s sharing bicycles is the world’s largest system of sharing cycling. When people can bicycle in minus 16 centigrade in the freezing cold of that city, why not they can do this in Islamabad where it is quite pleasant. Haroon General also agreed with what the foreign nationals said about popularizing cycling trend in Islamabad adding the city managers need to look into the concerns of the foreigners and ensure they can ride bicycle safely on these lanes.
Deputy Mayor of Islamabad Zeshan Naqvi is of the view that the Metropolitan Corporation in order to popularize cycling in Islamabad is taking measures like cycling competitions in the city and soon a number of more roads will be declared cycling lanes.

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