Can bicycle-friendly laws solve the apparent traffic problems in the city?

While the term ‘traffic’ is just another word for “all the vehicles that are moving along the roads in a particular area” according to the Collins Dictionary, the word is often found being linked with the state of congestion those vehicles create. ‘Road Traffic’, is understood both technically and by the public as a situation of overcrowding in the streets that arise because of a large number of vehicles moving irregularly (or even regularly) in a congesting manner.

Means of transportation were developed so as to make people reach their destination in a shorter time than walking makes possible. Vehicular transportation relieves the burden of movement of commodities to far-off places. The help such means of transport have been to further comfort in human civilization cannot be undermined. But due to overburdening of automobiles on the streets, their real purpose is definitely undermined.

The problem of road traffic in the city has increased to a level that walking the distance would cut time shorter than to wait for the vehicles to transport us. Private vehicles have far outnumbered public ones and the series of adding more private vehicles in the line still continues. Insufficient or leniently implemented traffic laws, inappropriate supervision of vehicular licence, irresponsible citizenry with their careless driving, and the authorities letting go impunities unchecked have been adding to road accidents. Pollution ejected by fuel combustion cannot be ignored. Furthermore, the inflationary prices of petroleum products in an already costly livelihood have highlighted the need of an alternative, a way of solving the problem in traffic.

Do we not see how bad the addition of fuel vehicles has been for our environment? Are we just going to let our accustomization to unhealthy lifestyle slide? Can there not be any solution to this problem of road traffic? Is there an alternative? How can the law develop and implement regulatory policies regarding traffic?

Significance of Bicycles as Alternative

Bicycles can be an alternative best suited to reduce the problems caused by automobile traffic at present. They can easily be used for covering shorter distances and they are light on the roads too, causing less damage to the infrastructure over time. They occupy far less space than automobiles do and reduce air and noise pollution to a great extent as they do not emit smoke and do not use engines that produce noise. Bicycles run on air which is both energy-saving and cost-effective. Plus, bicycles are healthier means of travel as they use up one’s manual physical labour. Absence of the need to reverse and heightened consciousness of the riders being in an exposed front street reduces the number of road accidents as well.

It is a given that bicycles may not prove to be workable for longer distances, during monsoon when roads are slippery, for travelling with a company and for people not skilled enough to ride them. But these are the reasons why public transport exists. Instead of choosing to grab one private motor vehicle per person, we can save up the energy and time wasted during traffic congestion by getting on a bus or a microbus for when bicycles do not seem feasible. We can also invest a little heavily in quality bicycles that can be reliable in every situation and which will still cost less than its alternatives.

Bicycle-friendly Actions and Global Policies

Realising the importance of bicycles in ousting other wasteful, unsustainable means of transportation, many countries have geared up to follow an environment-friendly movement of promoting the bicycle usage implementing following action plans:

  • The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968 had enshrined the cyclists’ right over the roads as vehicle operators hence treating cycles as vehicles.
  • Local Government Act 1888 of the UK recognised bicycles’ status as that of proper ‘carriages’ from their perceived status of ‘nuisances’.
  • The Fifth High-Level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment adopted the first ever pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion (The PEP) to encourage the stakeholders to integrate efforts in order to promote the ‘climate neutral mobility system’. European regional offices of UNICEF and WHO too aid this initiative.
  • The same Pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion 2021 targets that by 2030, all its 54 member nations will have developed and implemented a national cycling strategy.
  • The European Cyclists’ Federation has published a new report that recognises national cycling policies in line with EU member states’ ‘COVID-19 recovery plans’ and ‘National Energy and Climate Plans’.
  • Twenty three European countries have either had or still have national cycling strategies in place, most of which are on the verge of expiration but also in the process of being updated.
  • Copenhagen has done an exemplary job in promoting the cycling culture by provisioning cyclists with cycle racks, bike paths, traffic lights installed to let them ride stop-free, websites to report potholes, dedicated authorities that respond, footrests and railings at intersections.
  • President Biden has allowed a 30% tax break for purchasers of an e-bike under his ‘Bring Back Better Bill’ policy which will contribute to his Net-Zero Emissions Economy plan by 2050.
  • Spanish Royal Decree 8/2004, Article 1 presumes a driver to be liable in case of collision with a non-driver including cyclists.
  • The UN General Assembly has designated June 3 as World Bicycle Day to celebrate and promote the longevity, affordability and sustainability cycling provides.

As far as protection of cycle-riders and the sanctity of travelling in public are concerned, they can be assured through application of some policies below which are already in action in different places:

  • Cyclists in Missouri must have a 15 foot high fluorescent flag attached to their bikes.
  • The UK has made bicycle overspeeding equivalent to dangerous driving. Ireland has followed suit. 
  • France has quite some laws. Headphones while riding is banned. Children under 12 must wear helmets or the parents are fined €90. Alcohol limit that applies to drivers applies to cyclists too.
  • Drivers in Belgium must leave a one-metre distance between them and a cycle. A few Belgian cities are one-way for automobiles but bicycles enjoy two-way privilege.
  • In Connecticut, cyclists cannot go beyond 65 mph.
  • New South Wales has a prohibition on riding bikes without a bell.
  • Town Police Clauses Act 1847 of the UK has registered ‘cycling furiously’ as a fineable offence.
  • You must get off your bike completely in order to let motorists pass you in South Dakota.
  • Bicycling in a pool is forbidden in California.
  • Laws of Colorado say that you must always have at least one of your hands holding the handlebar of your bicycle.
  • One is not allowed to take bikes inside a public building in Dallas.
  • Gargling while cycling is an offence in Arizona.
  • Riding shirtless in Thailand is not a permitted action.
  • Cyclists of New South Wales ages 18+ must carry an identification with them.

Situation in Nepal and Attitude of Authorities

Nepal, especially Kathmandu, used to be an area engulfed by cyclists no matter what walk of life they came from. But after the advent of democracy in 1991, motor vehicles started crowding the roads leaving little to no space for cyclists in terms of movement and respect. 

Since Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act, 2049 (1993) does not mention bicycles under the category of means of transportation, Nepal cannot be considered progressive in considering pollution-free approaches of mobility. There is no specific legislation for regulating cycling within the country yet. 

The roads of Kathmandu are not safe for cyclists as the city-space has been narrowed down by an overabundance of four wheelers and motorcyclists not understanding enough. Bicycle lanes are either completely absent or unduly maintained where they are available. There are no laws ensuring safety of bicycle riders through their own responsibility or through a fellow road navigator.

After Nepal signed the ‘Velo Mondial Charter and Action Plan for Bicycle Friendly Communities’, a commitment of building a 44 km bicycle track was made that remains unfulfilled till date.A proposed bicycle lane from Maitighar to Tinkune has stayed suspended since 2000. Work for Maitighar-Koteshwor lane announced by the City Planning Commission in 2019 has not even started. 

However, the positive actions should also be recognised. Lalitpur Municipal Government, despite facing a clash with the central government’s Department of Roads, has constructed a bicycle lane from Kupandol to Mangalbazar via Jawalakhel and Lagankhel.

In January of 2021, The Government of Nepal Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, United Nations Development Programme, Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Kantipur Media Group and Cycle City Network Nepal have collaborated to launch an ecological campaign making bicycles the subject. It aims to map, track, credit and reward cycling practices in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Youths have taken their own pace in the promotion of Green city through cycling. Kathmandu Cycle City 2009 was an initiative that too the form of Cycle City Network Nepal by 2009.

The 2020 edition of ‘World Bike Forum’, an annual cycle activism programme was held in Kathmandu with a view to aware people on bicycles having the capacity of being sustainable alternative to polluting and road-congesting number motor vehicles.

The accidents like the conservationist cum cyclist Pralad Yonjan being killed after a vehicle hit him while riding his bike and cyclist Shyam Shrestha drowning in an open drain in Kirtipur while cycling made Mayor Shrestha…..(katako mayor..full name k ho) introduce a draft Cycle Act 2076 in association with Nepal Cycle Society, the 11 pages of which propose safety measures for cyclists, wheelchair users, protection of cycle-parking spaces and insurance for pedalling cargo-riders.

The Government of Nepal’s ,National Plan for Electric Mobility (NPEM)’ carries the objective of improving air quality and of cutting fossil fuels consumption in the transportation sector by 50%. A switch to massive use of bicycles can be an immediate relief towards working to that goal.


Reducing pollution in our environment and cutting on energy consumption is not a hefty task. Importation or manufacture of reliable bicycles, Promulgation of appropriate laws, development of long lasting and cycle friendly lanes, and incorporation of sufficient safety policies should do it. 

Our attitude regarding cycling as one of the means of daily commute needs a major perspective shift. It is high time we see bicycling as a necessity for environmental protection rather than a transport of lower – income class.

We can definitely think of electronic or solar powered vehicles as alternatives for energy conservation but such strategies are not  as economical and immediate as bicycle yet.

Deliberations on incentivised micro mobility and infrastructure investment for cyclists hold power to yield greater outcomes than we are envisioning right now.

2 thoughts on “Can bicycle-friendly laws solve the apparent traffic problems in the city?”

  1. Плюс это очень вредно.Нужно стараться в правильном русле двигаться всю жизнь, чтобы тебя не приследовали лишние килограммы Чтобы по-настоящему похудеть нужно время и усилия спорт, питание.Если не можешь контролировать питание, можно таблетки попить. как правильно бегать на улице начинающим для похудения
    Я могу порекомендовать Кетоформ таблетки, которые хорошо помогают избавиться от лишнего веса.Я с подросткового возраста страдаю лишним весом, все из-за гормонального сбоя.

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