Owning the streets

Owning  the streets

While the concept of ‘Cycle Day’ kicked off almost a year back, the day has become a carnival-like-affair now. With the event also including games on the streets and other cycle-related activities, it is a fun-stop for one and all.

Inspired by the concept of ‘Open Streets’ which is trending around the globe, this event, which used to happen at Cubbon Park, has now spread to other localities like HSR Layout, Indiranagar, Whitefield, Yelahanka, making the event accessible for people across the City.

Held in collaboration with the Department of Urban Land Transport and the Bengaluru Traffic Police; the coordinators work together as Bengaluru Coalition for Open Streets (BCOS). The day used to be held only once a month, but the group has slowly increased the number of events. “We started ‘Cycle Day’ as we wanted to encourage people to cycle. After a couple of events, we noticed that people in the neighbourhoods where the events were happening, were not coming out in large numbers. That is when we brought the concept of ‘Open Streets’,” says Sathya Sankaran, the founding member of ‘Praja Raag’, one of the organisers. He says that this has helped in making the day a community affair. “We want to encourage people to be comfortable with the streets. The whole concept of having games and other activities on the streets was to overcome the fear that people have,” he adds.

He says that till a few months back, the BCOS team was organising the ‘Cycle Day’, but now they will assist interested residents associations in holding the day in their
locality.  “Many areas, which had the events, picked up the concept and are now hosting it. From December, there will be a ‘Cycle Day’ held every weekend at one area in the City,” he says. The events that happened included introduction to street-cycling skills and slow cycling races.

Fitness sessions like cross-fit, yoga, stretch and warmup exercises were also done by professionals at the events. Srinidhi Sampath, who is a volunteer member, says that ‘Cycle Day’ is all about reclaiming streets.

“Non-motorised transport has lost all rights on the streets.There is hardly any space to cycle around,” he says.

Cycling is a clean and efficient method of transport, he vouches. “The health benefits are another add-on,” says Srinidhi. He adds that when the concept was introduced, they had done a survey to find out why cycling wasn’t popular in Bengaluru.

“Around 70 percent of the people said that they were afraid of riding a cycle on the road. We wanted to address this fear. To encourage people, we provide free rental bikes to others for the day,” he says. Srinidhi recollects that in the past, he used to cycle a lot. “It was safe back then. I want today’s children also to be able to do that. This is the intent of the day,” he says.

Cyclists and volunteers, who have been frequenting the event, look forward to the expanding of the concept. Rohan Kini from ‘Bums On The Saddle’, says that he has been a part of it since the first day. “There has been a lot of effort put into the event. The day quickly transformed in concept to include everyone into the event. Being an avid cyclist, it is exciting to meet young enthusiasts who started cycling. It’s a reconnect to cycling.”
The day now includes street games like ‘lagori’, ‘pagade’, ‘alaguli-mane’, hop-scotch, tug-of-war etc.

Varun, a mechanical engineering student with MS Engineering College, says that it’s a fresh and energetic concept, which he loves attending. “I have been cycling for a while. But this day has a carnival-like atmosphere which makes it all the more attractive and appealing. It also aims to make people own their streets,” he says.

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