Bicycles for Change will return now

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Bicycle is a useful means of transportation in times of corona crisis

By: Priyanka Saurabh

The craze of bicycles is increasing day by day in the Corona period. Now due to the lockdown, people are becoming more aware of the changed lifestyle and environment. Only then the purchase of bicycles is also increasing. Today, apart from the youth, engineers, professors, doctors, retired employees and professionals have also started buying bicycles to improve their health.

Bicycles are a useful means of transportation in times of crisis. In this era, cycling is cheap and accessible as well as beneficial in terms of health. But our governments have thought very little about bicycles in town planning. The Indian middle class, running after the modern glamor, considers cycling to be inferior anyway.

But today in the Corona era, bicycles are the solution to a lot of problems. Our thinking has become like that of the elite. We build roads for cars or four-wheelers, cyclists are nowhere not on our map. Even the newly settled cities, sectors, or sub-towns of the country do not even have bicycle lanes. And wherever it is, people do not use it, because the bicycle is not in our thinking or people think that riding a bicycle is a matter of low status. But now I have come to understand that it is very important to walk in harmony with nature.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Cycles for Change Challenge towards the early implementation of cycling initiatives in Indian cities. Under the Smart Cities Mission, all the cities, the capitals of the States and Union Territories, and all the cities of the country with a population of more than 5 lakh will be able to take part in this challenge which is being started with the objective of sustainable development of cities.

Significantly, this challenge was started by the Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs on June 25, 2020. It aims to help develop an integrated vision to motivate Indian cities to implement cycling-friendly initiatives quickly in response to Covid-19 and to promote cycling among citizens as well as experts. So that an approach can be developed to promote the practice of cycling.

Under this challenge, the scheme will be encouraged by collaborating with the civil society organizations, experts, and volunteers of the cities. The cooperation of common citizens can play an important role in this initiative. This challenge will be implemented mainly in two phases. The first phase of the Challenge will be implemented by October 2020, in which all the cities will focus on promoting the practice of cycling and formulating necessary strategies in this regard.

After this, a total of 11 cities will be selected in the second phase and several  guidelines from national and international experts will be provided for furthering their respective schemes and making necessary improvements in them. It Will be implemented by 2021.

Experts believe that ‘the Government of India is committed to assisting cities in developing high-quality transport systems.’ This challenge of the government is aimed at educating the general public, experts, city cycling groups, bicycle manufacturers, and dealers. A great way to connect to the unit. Through this, the concept of sustainable transport in cities will be promoted. This initiative will help in achieving the dual goals of promoting active mobility in cities as well as promoting health.

According to a survey by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, the use of bicycles in major cities around the world could increase by 50-60 percent once the Covid-19-generated lockdown is eliminated. To take advantage of this opportunity, major cities around the world are considering expanding their bicycle network, for example, Paris announced in April the construction of a 650-kilometer cycle route.

Significantly, this is also a great opportunity for Indian cities to encourage the common people to use clean and healthy means of transport like bicycles and create a conducive environment in this regard. The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative that motivates and supports Indian cities to implement cycling-friendly initiatives quickly in response to Covid-19.

Cycling has increased by 50-65% when cities come out of the lockout. Cities around the world are getting the opportunity to expand their bicycle networks and public bicycle-sharing systems. Increasing cycling can help cities improve green economies. Cycling for short distances can bring an annual profit of Rs 1.8 trillion to the Indian economy.

In this era of the corona, the bicycle has become a simple, cheap, and convenient means of maintaining health. It is also helpful in the social distance along with avoiding traffic jams. There is a lot of craze among the youth in the market today for stylish bicycles equipped with the latest technology of branded companies. Yes, now we just have to give up our feudal mentality that lower-class people ride bicycles.

It can be seen that cycling on a wide scale will also help in creating a sense of equality. At the moment, the situation is that the taller the car, the bigger the man. But now the thinking is taking a turn in the time to come, if the upper class, bureaucrats and capitalists of the big metropolis now go out for office on bicycles, the splendor of bicycles will return even in small towns, villages, and towns.

It is my wish that our lovely bicycle returns to spring in all our lives. We need awareness every day instead of celebrating a ‘Specisl Cycle Day’ to spread awareness among the public. This is the right time to call for a ‘bicycle revolution’ and to give a resounding answer to Corona. (The writer is a Research Scholar in Political Science, Delhi University, a poetess, independent journalists and columnists, radio and TV panelists)

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