NMT
refers to all modes of transportation that are not powered by a motor. This
includes walking, cycling, and other non-motorized Vehicles (NMVs) that can attain
limited speeds, i.e. less than 25 km/hr. The importance of NMT as an affordable
and environmentally friendly transport mode is increasingly being recognized
for its great potential in reducing emissions, improving safety, and creates
more sustainable urban environments.

In
Indian cities NMT not only suffers from general neglect and lack of attention
from policy makers, urban planners, and engineers, but also suffers from the
social stigma brought about by the captive nature of NMT use. NMT, therefore, needs
to be understood and encouraged from a policy, institutional, planning, culture,
and enforcement approach.

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NMT
in India means far more than simply walking and cycling. Instead, it encompasses
a wide array of people on streets riding in cycle rickshaws, pulling handcarts,
selling wares on vending carts, riding handicap tricycles and bullock carts as
well as children being pushed in prams. All of these modes conflict with a number
of motorized modes on city roads, which lead to unsafe and congested
conditions. In general terms, NMT users can be classified into two categories:
those who walk or cycle out of choice and those who are “captive users” and have
no other choice. Indian cities are dominated by the latter, though choice users
are substantial in number. NMT use by choice remains a latent demand primarily
due to the absence of dedicated infrastructure. Here NMT modes are also
classified into commuting and commercial modes – to be able to understand their
unique needs. E-rickshaws, even if nonpolluting is not included as an NMT mode
because it is not powered by human energy.

Numbers
of accidents in India have increased from 21.2 to 41.1 per lakh population in
2011. The share of urban areas in these accidents was 46.5 per cent. Moreover,
the most vulnerable groups, the pedestrians (9 per cent) and the bicycle riders
(4.8 per cent) were the most affected by these accidents. NUTP (2007) also states
that the use of cheaper non- motorized modes like cycling and walking has become
extremely risky, and raised a concern that it tends to impact the poor more severely
as many of those killed or injured tend to be cyclists, pedestrians or pavement
dwellers.

It
is known that the use of NMT increases the road capacity. Pedestrians and
cyclists require less space than cars and hence better laid footpaths and segregated
bicycle lanes would assist in better utilizing existing roads. In capital deficit
countries, which are the developing countries, this strategy would mean better
spent available capital. Carrying people by car requires 2.6 times greater road
area than by bicycle (IRC 1990). Together with this, NMT provides personal, flexible,
and inexpensive mobility. Walking and cycling are the two activities that generally
happen at road edges, which are undoubtedly one of the most neglected spaces on
Indian roads. The general definition of road is taken to be as movement space for
motorized vehicles, and its purpose is thought to be solved if car traffic moves
smoothly on it.

The
share of NMT (walking and cycling combined) in Indian cities in the early 1980s
was in the range of 40-60% of the total trips. Rickshaws- a unique type of NMT
used for both passenger and freight traffic holds a substantial share of modal
share in most Indian cities. However, rickshaws are often blamed for creating
congestion in the traffic flow – an assumption which was refuted by Tafari et al. (2007), stating that providing segregated
lanes for NMT in fact increases the capacity of road. Rickshaws are an
important feeder service for public transport.