Tough global test for Bengaluru's skeletal cycling lane network

The cycling event was arranged by the consulates of the four EU countries and coordinated by the Council for Active Mobility
Last Updated 18 October 2021, 01:52 IST

Slippery, disconnected and patchy with vanishing colours and signages... Drawing attention to the perils of climate change, as over 100 Indian, German, French, Dutch and Swiss cyclists pedalled across the city centre on Sunday, Bengaluru’s skeletal cycling lane stretch came out shaky from a grinding global test.

A few cyclists skidded off the smooth surface. But the Dutch Consul General Gert Heijkoop was forgiving, ready to give the city more time to boost its nascent cycling lane network. “It takes time, like in Amsterdam. They didn’t create their beautiful bike lanes in a few months. It took years,” he told DH.

If Bengaluru was ahead of even many European Union (EU) countries in Information Technology, he felt there is no reason why it cannot excel as a cycling city, too. “They just need to make the effort. Bengaluru should lead the way for other cities like Kolkata and Delhi.”

Arranged by the consulates of the four EU countries and coordinated by the Council for Active Mobility, the short rally made a statement as the cyclists wound their way through Ambedkar Veedhi, Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park and Raj Bhavan Road.

Gert articulated the need for more such events to promote cycling in the city: “Bengaluru, with 13 million people and eight million vehicles, needs to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles. It is better for them. It is healthy and it is better for the city.”

The rally was part of the EU Climate Diplomacy Week, as Frederick, Deputy Consul General for Germany, explained. “Two weeks every year, the EU and its member states try to make people aware about climate change and the need for urgent climate action. This ride is to remind everybody about a sustainable lifestyle, taking the bike out once in a while.”

Frederick, too, had a taste of the city’s cycling path. “It looked good, but could be improved upon. I see it as a great way to make the city more accessible to everyone.”

For Viju Cherian, a bicycle councillor and one of the many female cyclists who had turned up, the need was for more women to take to the pedal. “It is such a good exercise, but women are scared. The cycling lanes are a good beginning. Safety is a state of mind,” she said.

The four consulates had approached Bengaluru’s Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran to coordinate the event. “There were relief riders, bicycle councillors from the Council for Active Mobility, and people working for the different consulates, Directorate of Urban Land Transport and Smart City project,” said Arvind Dwarakanath, bicycle councillor for Malleswaram.

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(Published 17 October 2021, 19:30 IST)

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