QUESTION 1: WHAT IS NMT?
NMT stands for non-motorized transport. It is also referred to as active transportation or sometimes human powered transportation. It encompasses any mode of transport that does not require a motor to run, namely cycling, skating, hand carts, even wheelchairs. The simplest mode of non-motorized transport is a pair of legs: walking and pedestrianization are key components for NMT.
QUESTION 2: WHY DO WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT NMT IN INDIAN CITIES?
- NMT is one of the primary modes of transport in Indian cities already.NMT is not a Western concept, derived from visions of cyclists in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. NMT is inherently Indian. Stepping out on to the streets and scanning the numbers of walkers and cyclists on the road should give anyone a clear idea.
- NMT is a last mile connector. NMT can help you reach public transport modes such as buses and trains
- NMT is environment-friendly. No emissions, minimum equipment, quieter modes of travel mean that NMT can contribute significantly to a city's low carbon mobility strategy
- NMT reduces congestion on streets.
- NMT can contribute to making roads safer in our cities.
- NMT is a healthy way of travelling. It provides exercise, and gets people out into the fresh air
- NMT is very often the most affordable mode of transportation. A large number of India's urban poor cannot afford personal motor vehicles; many cannot even afford a bicycle. NMT plays a key role in enhancing accessibility and inclusivity in our cities.
- Bottom line: bringing a focus to NMT will go a long way in improving transportation conditions in our cities
QUESTION 3: WHY SHOULD CITY GOVERNMENTS AND LOCAL AGENCIES CONSIDER NMT AS A KEY ISSUE?
For all of the above reasons, and also because of national and sub-national policies that prioritise NMT and need to be implemented at the local level:
- The National Urban Transport Policy, which ultimately needs to be implemented in cities by local levels of government, clearly lists out the role of NMT as a last mile connector for the urban transport systems and as an independent mode for short distances.
- The National Mission for Sustainable Habitat, under the Prime Minister's National Action Plan on Climate Change, has constituted a sub-committee specifically focusing on urban transport. The sub-committee listed out eight principles of sustainable urban transportation, of which the first two are 'walk' and 'cycle'
- The Ministry of Urban Development has developed Service Level Benchmarks for urban transport to be undertaken by all Indian cities. These service level benchmarks specifically address aspects of NMT
- The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), launched in 2005, gave power to cities to undertake large scale infrastructure projects, including urban transport. City Mobility Plans prepared under the JNNURM were critiqued as lacking focus, and being rushed.
- A working group to provide recommendations on urban transport was set up for the formulation of the country's 12th Five Year Plan. This working group very clearly outlines the key role of NMT, and has recommended ear marking of funds within a city's roads development budget for walking and cycling facilities.