Cycling to work gains momentum

It took a while for techies to start pedalling to office, but the good news is that the numbers are looking up

Many like Kuruvilla Choolackal (centre second from left) are encouraging cycling to work in their own companies.

The CycleToWork campaign, launched by bicycle mayor Sathya Sankaran in September last year, has picked up across 115 organisations in Bengaluru.

The campaign extensively uses a website (https://cycleto.work) to enroll and advise cyclists.

When starting a ride to work, cyclists must use the Strava app (a network that tracks cycling and running through GPS data) and stop it after reaching the workplace. The application provides data to the website; it helps companies compete in promoting cycling.

As of now, 464 cyclists are listed on the website. Sathya says, “Most cycle events are once or twice a month but this concept aims to make cycling a part of daily life.”

The competition and the visibility on the website are spurring more cyclists to join in.

“The online visibility is also encouraging the corporate sector and cycling companies to come together and cross-incentivise things,” he says.

The data collected will help in better planning for cyclists in Bengaluru, he reckons.

Sathya says that data from this campaign can be used by companies to encourage changes in their facilities.

“From providing parking and creating priority entrances for cyclists to renting out cycles and building enough showers, many changes can be done,” he adds.

Repair workshop

Anand Kurlekar, business development manager, Robert Bosch, says the company has six campuses in Bengaluru and is trying to promote cycling on all of them.

“Twice a month, we circulate emails, including details of a long ride we go on once a month. A few days ago, we completed a trip to Hyderabad. Reports on our rides are published on our internal portal and read by all our employees,” he says.

In the coming months, Kurlekar says the company is planning to start sessions to teach cycle maintenance.

“Many are apprehensive about what will happen if their tyres are punctured. We are also offering sessions to teach those who do not know how to ride a cycle,” he says.

Bhavesh Jardosh, former employee of Cisco Systems, started cycling to work as a ‘Green team’ initiative last May.

“We were hoping for 50 people to sign up but about 200 people did,” he says.

Of the 200, 64 are registered on the CycleToWork website.

It is important to have the support of top executives for such initiatives, he says.

Breakfast meet

Kuruvilla Choolackal, head of operations, Quintype Technologies, has been cycling to work for two years.

“Fifteen of us have registered with the campaign. We have been doing breakfast rides for a while to increase awareness about cycling,” he says.

The company provides shower essentials for cyclists. Kuruvilla cycles from Kothanur to Old Airport Road.

“Most people feel they are not safe on the road. I think the city’s vehicular movement is slow, which makes it not too risky for cyclists. It’s when bikers come from the wrong side that one is at the most risk,” he says.

Log on to https://cycleto.work/ to enroll your organisation. To associate with the campaign, email bicyclemayorblr@gmail.com

‘The campaign brings in a healthy sense of competition among companies. Instead of lectures and workshops on cycling, friendly challenges result in a win-win situation.’ 
Anand Kurlekar, Business development manager, Robert Bosch

‘Command respect on the road’
“One of the biggest problems cyclists face is harassment from motorists. One can create awareness or change one’s attitude. The message of how cyclists need to be respected can be conveyed on the road.”
Sathya Sankaran, Bengaluru bicycle mayor 
 

Why so few women cyclists?

Less than 10 per cent of those who have signed up on the website are women. “The workplace participation of women in the IT industry is around 34 per cent,” he says.

Women have to battle prejudices on the road, says Shilpi Sahu, staff engineer at Qualcomm. “When most people see a woman driver, they assume she doesn’t know how to drive. The same goes for women cyclists but I just ignore them and ride confidently,” she says. Shilpi cycles from Sarjapur Road to Whitefield every day. “Women generally look for consent within the family and take fewer initiatives by themselves,” she says, explaining the absence of women cyclists on the roads. Women use the company gym, but when it comes to cycling, they have a mental block. “They will slowly come out of it,” she says.

Benefits of cycling
* Cut expenses.
* Get a workout.
* No parking hassles.
* Reduce carbon footprint.

464 Cyclists competing for daily honours

Why the hesitation?
* Safety is a concern.
* Bad infrastructure and roads in the city have always triggered fear.
* Apprehensions about handling punctures when on the road.

Promoting cycling
Some of the companies competing are Qualcomm-Bangalore, Cisco Systems India, Bosch, Quintype Technologies India, Dell EMC, Infosys (Electronic City), Aveva, BumsOnTheSaddle, Juniper Network India - Outer Ring Road and Shell India Markets.

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