Last update:

Struggle for Socially Equitable Urban Transportation, Pune, India

Cyclists in Pune are coming together to propose a cycle plan for the city. This case gives a brief account of the proposal and the process of negotiation between the citizen and the civic body.


The city of Pune in the Indian state of Maharashtra was once known as the city of bicycles. In spite of its undulating and hilly terrain, every household in the city owned more than one bicycle in 1971 [4]. Even by 1981, cycling together with walking and public transportation (bus and rail) constituted 76% of all trips made [4]. In the decades since however, a dramatic shift toward private motorized transport (PMT) has occurred in Pune due to multiple factors. A significant external cause was the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the 1990s that saw urban incomes rise with many more people now able to afford private motorized vehicles. While non-PMT modes still accounted for 55.5% of all trips made in the city in 2006, there were more than 100,0000 motorized vehicles on its roads. In 2016 alone, 224,341 motorized vehicles were registered out of which 62,955 were cars, and the total number of motorized vehicles now stands well above 160,0000.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Struggle for Socially Equitable Urban Transportation, Pune, India
State or province:Maharashtra
Location of conflict:Pune city
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Urban development conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Transportation services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Project area:47,900
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:250,0000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1995
Company names or state enterprises:Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) from India - Local state actor that will implement alternative transport plan
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:'Parisar'
'Centre for Environment Education'
'Save Pune Traffic Movement'
'Pedestrian First'
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Waste overflow, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:New legislation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:The 'Urban Street Design Guidelines Pune' project has set out with the stated vision of ‘re-establishing streets as experiential public spaces that offer citizens to use all modes of transport, including walking with a safe and dependable commuting experience.’
Within this initiative is the Pune Cycle Plan (PCP) which adopts a multi-step process of understanding the concerns and needs of cyclists in the city and which subsequently gives detailed technical recommendations on how to meet them effectively. The pedestrian paths themselves are to be made free of obstacles and smooth for wheelchair usage, while the cycling tracks are to be segregated with physical barriers that prevent encroaching by motor vehicles. Further, these cycling tracks are to be connected on a greater scale so that accessing more distant parts of the city on bicycle is possible. For even greater distances, the guidelines also include creating a network of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes for an uninterrupted public transportation experience. Other design elements include providing shade trees to pedestrian and cyclists, traffic calming speed-breakers in residential areas, intuitive universal signage (traffic signals etc.), street furniture (seating, trash bins etc.) and other features.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:As far as conceptualising a vision for an alternative transportation system that is based on equitable access and sustainability is concerned, the project can be considered as a success. However, the project is lagging behind in implementation. By the original timeline of the project, a draft plan was to be placed before the Pune Municipal Corporation General Body by September-October 2016. Instead the corporation felt a need for an additional survey to obtain a more updated data-set on the feasibility of creating a cycle share program. The consultants hired to carry out this survey have submitted their report, but there has been no discussion on the matter as of December 2016.
While the municipal commissioner is enthusiastic about the project, the structure of the corporation is a potential hurdle to successful implementation of the project guidelines. The final responsibility of implementing design schemes lies with the corporators of each ward and not all of them share the same interest as the commissioner does. This seems to be an important determinant, as observed in road maintenance on current stretches of roads and existing cycle tracks.
A more serious impediment however could be the metro link project that has been approved by the corporation simultaneously, under the Smart City plan of the central government. The metro project was not part of the comprehensive mobility plan for Pune, and is not a recommendation of the technical consultants. The estimated cost of building a metro network is 10,500 crore rupees with the stated aim of transporting 7 lakh people per day by 2031. However, the existing bus network in Pune already transports more than 10 lakh people per day. The relationship between the metro project and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is thus not mutually complimentary. In fact the commissioner himself has been quoted as saying that ‘the metro is a glamour project, but that the future lies in the bicycle.’ As such, the go-ahead given to the metro project seems like a move made under pressure from the larger political machinery of the state and the country, in keeping with the grandiose neoliberal vision of ‘smart’ cities.
In summary, this case cannot yet be considered an environmental justice success since it is still in the planning stage, and faces issues of both implementation and interference in the time to come.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

1. Urban Street Design Guidelines Pune, 2016
[click to view]

Comprehensive Mobility Plan for Pune City
[click to view]

2. National Urban Transport Policy, 2014
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Pune Cycle Plan - Inception Report
[click to view]

3. Supporting PMC in Transition Towards a Cycle-Friendly Pune through the Comprehensive Bicycle Plan - a presentation made to the bicycle advisory committee
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

'Centre advises metro projects as last resort' - a newspaper report that describes how understanding is finally sinking in within official governing circles that large-scale public transportation projects such as metro networks are less effective solutions to elevating congestion issues.
[click to view]

Official wordpress blog of the 'Pune Cycle Plan'
[click to view]

Official Facebook page of the 'Pune Cycle Plan'
[click to view]

'Pune citizens keep watchful eye on their city' - a popular magazine report on Parisar's early efforts to tackle environmental issues in the city of Pune
[click to view]

'Protecting your parisar' - a magazine article that articulates the goals of the organisation which is 'gathering greater public support for improving public transport, creating cycling facilities and a better environment to adopt walking while moving away from automobile-centric planning.'
[click to view]

'Experts raise concerns over one-ways' - a newspaper report critical of the local municipal's decision to create 'one-way roads' (where traffic moves in only one direction). One-way roads are similar to flyovers in that they only elevate congestion issues temporarily, while exacerbating them in the long term.
[click to view]

Other documents

4. Understanding the Flyover phenomenon Published by the NGO 'Parisar', this report conducts a perception and cost benefit analysis of the flyovers constructed and proposed by the governing bodies in the city of Pune. Demonstrates empirically that flyovers not only fail at elevating congestion issues, but exacerbates them in the medium to long term.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Vinay Nair. Kalpavriksh, Pune.
Last update18/06/2019
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.