Bicycles help fitness & social distancing, say cyclists

MUMBAI: The city’s cycling population on Ganesh Chaturthi embarked on a new mission. They have now appointed 24 bicycle councillors, one in each civic ward to increase population of cyclists and encourage public sharing bicycle stands, with a target of 1 lakh cyclists in Mumbai by 2023.
This, according to them, will compel the government to create good infrastructure for cyclists, including dedicated bike lanes which will remain ‘utilised’.
“Cycling track should be there only when there is a critical mass of cyclists. Else if you have a cycle track and it is under-utilised then it becomes a failed project,” said Mumbai’s bicycle mayor Firoza Suresh, part of an international non-profit organisation from the Netherlands which promotes cycling in various countries.
“Our priority is to get more cyclists to hit city roads, be it those for recreation or fitness purpose or going to office or those who need it for regular work like dabbawalas, food service providers, courier boys etc. The next thing on our mind is increasing cycle stands for Mumbai,” she said.
Amruta Ponkshe, associate fellow with the Sustainable Development Programme at ORF, said : “The appointment of bike councillors comes at an opportune moment. They are expected to be micro-level ambassadors and conduct training programmes for students and new cyclists.”
Said Parin Visariya of Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), “We will guide Mumbai cyclists through Cycles4change challenge of Smarts Cities Mission in implementing low-cost interventions like pop-up cycle lanes and non-motorised zones, community-led cycle rental schemes that increase the availability of cycles to citizens and promote the usage of cycling through public events and outreach”.
Ponkshe suggested that motorists should be sensitised to the presence of cyclists on the roads, especially in cities and towns with roads having no clear demarcation of bike and car lanes.
“Other important aspects of developing bike culture would be to have changing rooms and shower facilities in offices that would enable employees to ditch their commute in favour of a bike ride, that ensures physical fitness and well-being,” she said, adding that bicycle councillors should gradually create micro-level plans for bike lanes, cycling paths and bike parking zones.



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