City to have Bicycle Mayor, the go-to man for cycling

City to have Bicycle Mayor, the go-to man for cycling

Nikita Lalwani, Bicycle Mayor of Baroda

The city will have its first 'Bicycle Mayor' by the end of May. Yes, you read it right. And what more, six cycling enthusiasts have been shortlisted for the position.

In total, 19 of them had applied for the honorary two-year position supported by ByCS (formerly Cycle Space), an Amsterdam-based NGO striving to make 50% of all city trips on bicycle by 2030. The applications were sent to the Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF).

Bengaluru will be the third city in the country to have a Bicycle Mayor, after Baroda and Guwahati.

"The Bicycle Mayor, who'll be chosen by this month end, will be the face of the city's cycling community," said Manju George, ESAF India's senior programme manager. "The initiative would promote several cycling programmes that have come up in the city under the mayor's leadership."

She further said that the six finalists have been shortlisted by a five-member jury, who will hold two selection rounds. They will first give them a questionnaire to find out their knowledge on cycling and a personal interview with the jury. "The Bicycle Mayor will be chosen based on their performance," Manju said.

The shortlisted candidates are Anil Prabhakar, Maharshi Sanket, Murali H R, Murali Kartik, Prabhakar Rao and Sathya Sankaran, who are cycling enthusiasts based in the city.

"The main objective of appointing a Bicycle Mayor is to create an environment for cycling in the city," said Srinivas Alavalli, member of the selection panel, who belongs to NGO Citizens for Bengaluru. "The environment creation involves policy making and creating infrastructure for cyclists. This requires working with various stakeholders like local authorities and cyclists in the city."

Metros across the globe such as Sydney, Amsterdam and Sao Paulo have appointed Bicycle Mayors. The elected mayor would work with the state government, ByCS and the Dutch embassy in India.

Scene in Baroda 

Baroda's Bicycle Mayor Nikita Lalwani, also the first ever Bicycle Mayor in Asia, is exhorting fellow residents of her city to saddle up on cycles. "My aim is to change the commuting behaviour and to opt for cycling for a greener environment and healthy life," Nikita told DH.

"I've prepared three policies: persuading more corporate workers, school and college students to take up cycling, besides creating the basic infrastructure for cycling in Baroda," she added.

Though there is not much eagerness from the city authorities, Nikita said Baroda's cycling community is working hard to make people transform the city from car-centric to human-centric.