United by Cycle, Divided by Road Users
Cycling is still a major means of transportation for a huge section of Indian society even as urban Indians flaunt their fitness with fancy versions of this humble pedal-powered machine.
But, it’s not easy to hit the streets.
According to news reports, over 108 cyclists were killed and 28 injured in the last three years. Most of the deceased were those who used cycles as their mode of daily commute.
However, Covid-19 coupled with climate crisis inspired many citizens to take up a set of wheels for a whiff of headwind and fitness.
On this World Cycling Day, we explore Cycle 60 created by Brigadier (rtd) Ravi Muniswamy that allows anybody with a passion to explore and test their own limits as well as talk to individuals who use pedal power.
Cycle 60 also known as CLUB- Cycle Lovers United Bengaluru aka the Cycle Gang is a diverse mix of individuals who go on scenic rides to both strengthen themselves physically and mentally.
Participants are as young as 12, and as old as 74-years-of-age.
Brig Ravi says a man with physical disability was keen to join one such trip and despite opposition from his own friends, cycled with the gang for 120 km.
The retired soldier has led his group into Tamil Nadu as well as different parts of Karnataka.
They have cycled past forts, wild, vast & open terrains and have visited ashrams and organisations that do social work.
Cycling is all about building unity, awareness and respect, he says adding that they are often sheltered from the night sky out of goodwill by those they visit.
The Mantra of the Cycle Gang is All for Bharat and Bharat for All.
However, disaster does not give cyclists a free pass and Brig Ravi narrates how he has been off-roaded on more than one occasion thanks to careless driving by motorists.
However, safety and first-aid box are part of their travel-kit.
According to him, authorities must focus on repairing roads, building awareness and respect for cyclists especially among larger vehicle drivers who have egos as big as their machines.
Cyclists and pedestrians are the worst hit casualties in accidents. It’s a daily danger they face whether on the KIA road or ORR.
Whether it’s cycling for fun or for work, there is always a danger.
Sukan a security guard from Tripura at a godown in Amruthnagar says he has no problems cycling on north Bangalore roads though roads are congested. ‘I live in Byatarayanapura and cycle daily. I get enough space on the roads,” he says underlining his first love.
According to media reports, other than Outer Ring Road (Silk Board to KR Puram) and some areas of the Central Business District, cycle lanes are either non-existent or acquired by motorists.
Marlinga, a daily worker pushes his cycle across busy Dasarahalli main road but meekly says he too has no problems cycling. ‘I actually have an issue with my leg from the hip but cycling takes away the pain, ‘ he adds with a sporting smile.‘
On World Cycle Day, many organisations are coming together to organise events to promote cycling.
Namma Bengaluru Foundation will launch the Slow Streets Campaign from Commercial Street to make Bangalore roads safer.
Meanwhile, Nagaraj who cycles to and from Amruthahalli, often at night, says it is a peaceful ride. ‘I don’t ride during peak hours. So I face no issues on the roads or by other people, ‘ he says smiling under a tree surrounded by his favourite dogs.
Story by Maria Kuruvilla