Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reinventing Cochin Cycle Rally 2009!

Call for
‘Reinventing Cochin’

Cities are a part of our lives and language. Globally, the dimensions of city culture have changed to accommodate the growing needs of the city people. Cities are mostly places where people meet for leisure and pleasure. It should accordingly, open up, invite and include people, and offer various avenues for entertainment. With the ever-increasing environmental and health concerns, a city where shopping and entertainment go hand-in-hand with environmental consciousness is a dream which should transcend into a reality. However, urbanism in the cities can be generated only if we have ecological and socially sustainable platforms. Only this can herald a vibrant city.

A country mirroring varied cultures and lifestyle, the India of today is redefined by its upscale cities, which lead a global existence. Indian cities have grown at alarming rates; unfortunately they are not landmarks of much, except perhaps haywire traffic and pollution. Our new-age cities are unplanned agglomerations that suffer from bad traffic, pollution, complex life situations and lack of insight. And Kochi is no different.

Kochi, identified by governmental records as a metropolis, is a city with a population of 13.55 lakhs. It is a mjor contributor to Kerala’s economy, contributing upto 14% of the state GDP. But city life is literally in shambles. Infrastructure-wise, narrow roads and traffic congestion, speeding buses, unplanned medians and flooded roads, lack of pedestrian sidewalks and open drains have all turned life worse for the average Kochiite. The city has ceased to be environment-friendly as well. There is a marked absence of green open spaces. Trees are cut down in order to make way for swank helipads and concrete development. Waste disposal has come to mean dumping it in the most unlikely of spaces. Also, the growing number of vehicles cause considerable ecological damage through emissions and noise from internal combustion engines. An AQI up to 50 is regarded as good while the 51-100 range is considered moderate. Anything above 100 is considered unhealthy while those above 150 are considered down right harmful. In Kochi, the Air Quality Index (AQI) readings are from between 160-200 on an average. All this mayhem warrants immediate action.
In pursuit of discovering newer ways to energize city life and to help build a ‘people oriented city’ Reinventing Cochin, one of the leading initiatives of Centre for Public Policy Research, is seeking to organize a campaign unlike any other - a Cycle Rally! The Rally, sought to be held during the 5th of December 2009 to coincide with the World Pollution Prevention Day and the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, is aimed at reviving the luster of greenery and the power of easy mobility that Kochi is slowly, but surely losing. This, we believe can be achieved by efficiently integrating cycling into mainstream transportation.
Cycling is one of the most efficient modes of non-motorized transportation system. Cities have realized its multi-faceted potential in being eco-friendly, affordable and healthy. Cycling also transcends barriers of class, age and physical ability. It is an expression of freedom. It is a symbol of equality and human dignity. It will help Kochi rebrand it self from a disorganized agglomeration into a ‘people oriented’ city. A city for ‘ALL’!!!

So…Join us in breathing life back into the city – towards a safer, eco-friendly, healthy and fun Kochi! Healthy City, Healthy You, today and tomorrow!!!

1 comment:

Musings said...

Reinventing Kochi seems like a very interesting project ( especially for me as I am researching under the said project). I came to Kochi last week with my Brother and one of the first observation my brother made was that Kochi seemed like a, "Big City with a Small Town Feel." His statement got me thinking, eventhough I could relate to his observation; somehow I couldn't explain it.
The next day when I came to the CPPR office I again started thinking about Kochi as a city. It was at this time that I came to know about the details of the 'Reinventing Kochi Project' and the 'Cycle Rally'.
Unplanned growth does not lead to development but often ends up in chaos. Unplanned growth is not isolated to Kochi but is becoming a fixed feature of Urban India. The problems listed in the above post with respect to narrow roads, sanitation, hygiene etc can be observed all over the country. In India we often digress from the need to find solutions and resort to the blame game. With environmentalists blaming the corporates, corporates relying on the need for economic development, politicians...well just being their indecisive self. Thankfully all the sectors have agreed that the need of the hour is sustainable development. But mere recognition does not solve the problem, the primary question which arises now is, "How to incorporate Sustainable Development?"
It is essential to incorporate the principles of sustainable development at the stage of planning itself to avoid complications at the later stage.
The present initiative of the CPPR to organize the cycle rally should be appreciated at different levels. It is said that those who cannot create the solution restrict themselves to criticizing the problem. The Rally is a positive act and not mere words to solve the problems of the city.
A city is a place where people live hence it is essential to give the people a chance to participate in the change. This is exactly what the Cycle Rally provides. You don't need to be a lawyer, or a doctor or a politician to join the rally, any person can participate.
Based on the response of this rally, maybe in the future a Walkathon can also be organized.
Every city has a unique personality. Kochi is renowned the world over for its natural beauty. The unplanned growth of the city should not encroach on this beauty. A city without any personality become mechanical and loses it's charm.
If you feel the need to preserve Kochi's personality then join the rally...become a Pedal Pusher!