January 19, 2009

Delhi Pedals to Make a Green Point

Pedestrians swear at them and motorists look down on them. Cyclists in the city routinely feel marginalized on the roads. But there is
still a certain section of people who not only strongly support good ol’ cycling that can keep one fit, but also take pride in its “green’’ nature.

These are the people who on Sunday came out to take part in a bicycle ride organized by Initiative for Transportation & Development Programmes (ITDP-India) and Delhi Cycling Club. The rally was planned to “promote cycling as a zero-pollution, healthy and most sustainable mode of transportation’‘. It was also the day when in Mumbai, the annual marathon took place.

Starting from Humayun Tomb, around 40 people pedalled with great enthusiasm on the cycle tracks of BRT Corridor from Lodhi Road/Oberoi Hotel Flyover crossing to Ambedkar Nagar Terminal and back, covering a distance of 20 kilometres.

From IT professionals to housewives, who brought their kids along, many on Sunday morning shunned their cars for bicycles. Ashita Murgai, managing editor in a publishing house, said she no longer drives to work. “I love cycling. Each morning, I use the bicycle to go to my office in GK from my house in South Extension. It is the most healthy and economical way of staying fit. And at the same time, it’s completely eco-friendly,’’ said Murgai, as she followed her 8-year-old son, Madhav, leading the group of cyclists.

In recent times, with a strong focus on healthy lifestyle and clean environment, cycling has again become fashionable. It’s evident from the membership of Delhi Bicycling Club that has risen from one to 500 in just one year. Started in 2007, the group also has around 300 members from various parts of India who keep in touch with the Delhi members online.

Founder of the club Nalin Sinha said half of Delhi’s population travels less than 6 km daily. “It means one can cycle to work, reduce pollution and keep fit very easily,’’ he said.

But are the city roads safe for cyclists? Sinha believes they are. He said if traffic rules are followed, cycling is the safest bet on roads. “Delhi with its wide roads can be made a haven for cyclists if the government can develop segregated bicycle lanes. More cyclists on the road will also mean less pollution and less congestion,’’ said Sinha.

He said now that the government is heavily investing in new projects like Metro and BRT Corridor, it should also keep in mind cyclists and should plan for them. A sentiment with which Jaspreet Bindra, a Microsoft employee in Gurgaon and a participant in the rally, agreed with. “In certain western cities, even public buses have racks where cyclists can place their bicycles. In this way, they can use cycles for short distances while use of public transport for longer distance. There should be such provisions here as well,’’ he said.

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Delhi Pedals to Make a Green Point


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