December 22, 2016
Bengaluru: It could solve traffic and pollution problems at one go, and improve your health, but while we are happy to get on gym bikes in India, the idea of cycling on our city roads is not very enthusing.
“Indians are averse to riding to work or school, because of our extreme weather and challenging traffic conditions,” says Deepender Sehajpal, an avid cyclist and finisher of the prestigious long-distance cycling event, Paris-Brest-Paris 2015, and founder of cycling club Noida Randonneurs. “If offices encourage riding to work with proper shower and changing facilities, this can be promoted, but given the risks on the Indian roads, not many organisations would participate in this. We need dedicated cycling lanes to make it safer for everyone on the road.”
Lessons can be taken from the Dutch, who cycle to school and work; to encourage people to give up their cars and use bikes, the Dutch government invested in improved cycling infrastructure and urban planners started to diverge from the car-centric road-building policies pursued throughout the urbanising West.
“But things aren’t so bad here either. The first cycling highway, for example, is a huge step in the right direction,” says Sayantan Das, an avid cyclist from Bengaluru.
Deepender, who went on the Challenge 250 event to inaugurate India’s first ever bicycling highway, shares his experience, “About 150 of us rode in the challenge. The route of this bicycle highway passes ravines of Chambal from within the rolling terrain, crisscrossing about 90 villages on a 200 km route, and connecting Etawah with Agra.”
Deepender strongly believes that in urban India, cycling is not just a fad, but a movement waiting to gain momentum and grow with a little help from the government.