Cycling ahead with enthusiasm
Cycling is a passion for some and a habit for others. Be it health reasons or otherwise, there are many groups and individuals in the City, who have been trying to spread the fun of cycling into the masses. And now, with the concept of ‘Cycle Day’ introduced in the City, these cycling enthusiasts are hoping for the best. The event, called ‘Feel Bengaluru Cycle Day’, kicked off on October 27 in Cubbon Park, and will be followed every month.
Cycling enthusiasts and the authorities spoke about how such a day would be accepted by Bangaloreans. Rohan Kini, founder of ‘Bums on the Saddle’, a bicycle shop, said that
in a City like Bangalore, where the distances are not much, cycling will be a good option for commuting. “Enjoying every aspect of cycling is what got us into it. Unlike what most people say, fuel cost is not what triggered cycling for me. It was about the fun and the fitness regimen,” says Rohan.
He adds that the success of the concept depends on what the goal is. “It is mainly about making people know that there is something like this happening, even if not all will take up the option,” he elaborates.† When asked what should be done to make the City more cycle-friendly, Rohan is quick to add that cycle racks need to be added to the transport buses to get this concept going.
Venkateshwara Rao Navanasi, a quality consultant who’s been cycling for five years, commutes daily on cycle, as a regular exercise. “It was mainly the health factor which drove me to it. I commute by it everytime, unless when I have to take my family out. In a City like Bangalore, it’s upon the people to overcome their inhibitions,” says Venkateshwara. He opines that often people here think cycling is also related to a particular social strata of people. Venkateshwara believes that if the importance of cycling is understood well, then arrangements to spread the practice of cycling will come by itself.
Murali Ramanath from Namma Cycle, which provided 50 free rental cycles for the event, says that this attempt by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) aims to communicate the message of cycling and get people to meet others. “The safety
factor seems to be worrying most people in the City. Thus people refrain from cycling. This concept aims to break this barrier,” he says. To make cycling popular, Murali adds that the government needs to look into making proper cycling lanes. “Seeing the success of the last ‘Cycle Day’, we will be providing 150 cycles for the coming one. We also intend to encourage people who ply by cycle regularly like those in the postal department and more, from the coming one,” he says.
Srinidhi S, one of the ‘Cycle Day’ volunteers, states that after a cycle survey was done, it was realised that one of the biggest reasons — 60 per cent of the reason of cycling still not being popular yet, was the safety factor. “We aim to crack this fear among the people. On the ‘Feel Bengaluru Cycle Day’, the Mayor took part, which also helped to push the message deeper,” says Srinidhi. He adds that they also aim to bring alive the ‘Heritage Ride’, where people would be travelling across the City visiting different historical points.
The authorities weren’t able to clearly state how a trend in cycling would help the City’s traffic and pollution state since this is a new concept, but they are hopeful that it does. Additional commissioner of police (traffic), B Dayanand says, “Compare a cycle to a four- wheeler or two-wheeler, and the space used is very less. And thus, when cycling becomes popular, congestion is bound to reduce on the roads, which will lead to smoother traffic flow.” A representative from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board says that since the number of cycles are minimal in the City, the amount of pollution reduced would be hard to compute. “If the trend increases and more cycles are introduced, one will be able to note a change,” he states.