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Cycling as a way of life!! Need Separate tracks and the will for change

Covid revived the culture of cycling in a big way in India, especially in metros like Delhi. It was heartening to see families with small children moving on their respective cycles on the roads. Not only school-going children could be seen cycling once again on the roads but the college-going youngsters and office goers could be seen having dug out their cycles from the storerooms and moving in groups on the bicycles.

It appeared then that the fast-diminishing culture of cycling in metros has revived back and the phenomenon would kick in a new trend for post covid times. But alas! We are back to the cozy selves of private vehicles and public transport. Most of those who had resolved to continue to cycle around have packed these back.

While no one can discount the benefits of cycling for health and also for the environment, why is it so that in India we hardly see young children picking up cycling for their regular school commuting or the office goers adopting cycling as a means of transport of choice.

On June 3 every year, the world celebrates ‘World Bicycle Day ‘  to raise awareness about cycling and its benefits on health and mental well-being.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also encouraged people to resort to this cheap and environmentally friendly way of transport and wanted the nation to  “draw inspiration” from Mahatma Gandhi, who advocated for a “sustainable and healthy lifestyle to safeguard the environment.”

He tweeted an old photo of Mahatma riding a bicycle, giving an acronym for “life” – “Lifestyle for Environment”.

“Today is World Bicycle Day, and who better to commemorate it than Mahatma Gandhi?”

Gandhi is someone to look up to if you want to build a sustainable and successful life.

“It’s all about living a healthy lifestyle,” he tweeted.

During lockdowns due to covid 19 pandemic when people from big cities took out their bicycles they realized the immense benefits attached to this age-old mode of transport but most of these have gone back to their previous lifestyle. It is a common complaint of parents who discourage their children from going to school by bicycle due to security concerns as they are scared that vehicular traffic on the metro roads is neither pedestrian-friendly in India nor bicycle-friendly.

Even the youths insist that without separate bicycle tracks like in European countries it is not possible to resort to cycling as a regular mode of transport. Plus, the long-distance between work and college discourages people from cycling on regular days. People also insist that government, besides creating appropriate infrastructure for cycling in metros should also encourage the culture of cycling.

Why cycling is not popular in Metros?

People require roadways that are free of manhole covers and barks. Wrong-side driving poses the most danger. These drivers must be sanctioned, and their vehicles must be seized. A two-foot bike lane must be built behind every bus stop so that cyclists do not have to overtake a bus. Government should create regulations and infrastructure to ensure the safety of cyclists. Make temporary interventions through tactical urbanism, construct pop-up lanes,

and stimulate adoption through corporate incentives and state-sponsored special programs, and undertake public awareness campaigns.

All of these things will have a significant socioeconomic impact. Children must be able to safely navigate the highways.

Increase the number of free parking spaces in public areas.

Union home minister Amit Shah in January 2022 laid the stone of the Delhi Cycle Walk, the project said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in a press statement issued.

The first phase of the project-named the Delhi Cycle Walk- will cover 36km and connect neighborhoods that include Badarpur, Tughlaqabad, Saket, Malviya Nagar, Chirag Delhi, Kalkaji, Nehru Place, and Vasant Kunj, It will also cover large parts of the Jahapanah forests and other green spaces, senior DDA officials said.

According to Delhi Development Authority, the project also covers several lakes and water bodies

“Cycling tracks (will) connect business districts, offices, schools, colleges, and metro stations, the DDA said in a statement “Delhi Cycle Walk will be a controlled track with defined and secure entrance points near residential areas and exit points near places of work, schools, etc. These points of entry shall be called origin (an such as washrooms, tea, and coffee spaces. Close Story plazas and shall have facilities points, vehicle parking

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has a bicycle sharing system in place at a few stations, and now the DMRC is partnering with Yulu to offer electric bikes at nine metro stations.

Yulu has deployed a fleet of 250 electric motorcycles around Delhi as part of their collaboration agreement. The Yulu Miracle e-bikes are being utilized, and they have a peak speed of 25 mph and a range of 60 km on a single charge

But what is the true picture? Yulu is a nice choice for people to go around the traffic problem and clean up their environment, but what people do is steal smart bikes and don’t return them to the stations. Bikers utilize the bicycle track to get around the gridlock.

The government can create the rules, but it is up to us to follow them. We must follow them for our own benefit, not for the benefit of others.

Benefits of Bicycling

Bike riding is a low-impact and enjoyable form of exercise for people of all ages. Cycling to the park, the neighborhood store, school, or even work is a simple way to include cycling into your daily routine.

Being healthy encompasses not just one’s physical fitness but also one’s emotional well-being. Some Weight Management, boosts your immunity, Mental Health, Stress reduction, reduces the risk of heart disease, and Reduction of carbon footprints

With growing cases of heart ailments in youth and elderlies in India and the country being notorious for a high diabetic population, it is all the more important to get back to cycling while not disapproving of how much we can cut down on our fossil fuel by adopting to cycling.