Dear Bengaluru, Reset with Cycling!

Updated: May 10




It all started about thirty years back, when I was about six years old. I developed this strong longing to own a cycle, and to take a ride around my locality after coming back from school. Since I don't exactly remember what I felt back then, I'm guessing it must have been the earliest instance of me experiencing peer-pressure. Like all mothers, even my mother was also receptive to little me yearning for a cycle no matter how much my father thought I could do without one. Coming from a middle-class family, one thing I learnt from my parents was to be clear on priorities, especially on spending. The cycle thing was a little tricky - it was not clear where it fell in terms of priority for a single-income family like mine. However, unclear why father was about buying me the cycle, my mother was very clear what a cycle meant to me. Getting me the cycle back then was an important personal victory for my mother, she recalls it with pride even today. Like I said before, a mother knows the needs of her child very intuitively - my mother probably knew my love for cycling deep-down. I yearned for a cycle when I didn’t have it, even now when I have one, I continue to obsess about it . Similar to how lord Ganesha had mooshika (a rat) as a vahana (vehicle), for me the cycle has become a life-long vehicle . Yep, at the age of 36 the only vehicle that I own is a cycle, I strongly believe that cycles can be the primary means of travel. My belief goes to the extent that I still don’t have a driving licence and neither plan on getting one. I really don’t remember how much I have cycled so far in my life, but I can ballpark with a reasonable accuracy that I typically cycle nearly three thousand kilometres(kms) every year since the last ten years, which also includes my regular day-to-day travel and the long-distance rides that I take up on national holidays wherein me and a bunch of folks typically cycle a minimum of three hundred kilometres per ride. I grew up in the city of Bangalore. I remember a time when we used to wear sweaters almost every day to school. Since then the city has grown in size and population. I can clearly recall that I used to wear the sweater more often back then, even in months which I can’t imagine wearing one now . Now I wear sweaters mostly in December and sometimes in November. While the number of months that I wear the sweater is not an empirical metric of how warm our city has become. I recently came to the understanding of the level of air pollution and it’s harmful impact in the city through a totally different experience. My mother had started coughing regularly in the last five to six years. My father took my mother to our family doctor, whenever he thought she was coughing more persistently. During the last couple of years her coughing had become acute . This raised some serious concerns amongst all of us at home since the medication wasn’t helping . However, there was a miracle, she suddenly stopped coughing almost a month back and hasn’t coughed even once since then. The COVID-19 crisis has been a disaster for the world. But it has surprisingly proven to be a temporary cure to my mother’s respiratory illness. This is due to the drastic drop in the pollution levels in Bangalore as lesser vehicles are plying on the roads. Suddenly the city seems like the Bangalore I grew up in the late 80s and the early 90s. I know this drop in pollution is temporary and will only remain until the lockdown is revoked. It would hurt me to see my mother’s cough get aggravated again after the lockdown is lifted. But is there a permanent solution? As someone who has cycled all throughout - I see light at the end of the tunnel. I have personally enjoyed cycling so much that I recommend anyone around me to cycle both short distance and long distance. As a matter of fact, almost all my colleagues who work with me have cycled with me in some or the other long distance rides. For instance, once four of us from my workplace cycled on the wonderful streets of Kerala for nearly 400kms to attend another colleague's wedding near Cochin (which even made it to the newspapers). Besides, recent statistics say that an estimated 38% of all trips in Amsterdam are made by cycle. When it is possible in a city where the per capita income is higher than any city in India, why not Bangloriens adopt cycling seriously? Aiding to the fact that the work from home will become a new normal for the IT employees, I think the city will have a lot more space on the roads for the cyclists. The commissioner of police of Bengaluru , Bhaskar Rao, is himself a passionate cyclist, who thinks Bengaluru can overtake Amsterdam and Paris in Cyclist numbers. Dear Bengaluru folks, This is our real chance to not let Bengaluru become another Delhi! Bengaluru has always been for ages famously called as an Air-Conditioned city which no longer holds good, if we become a city of cyclers we may still have a chance to reclaim the lost title. The most important thing is my mother and your mother would be given a chance to breathe clean and pureair. Would you want to provide your mother with a chance to breathe the clean air she deserves? If yes, then ,“reset with cycling post lockdown!” Wishing you and your mother a very happy Mother’s day! Thanks, Ganesh 10-5-2020 PS: Come join the movement: Post pictures of you and your loved ones cycling on the social media(Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) with the hashtag #ResetWithCycling. I really hope by the end of this month we will have created a massive movement for promoting cycling, you can lead the change for a more sustainable and healthy future.We must not miss this chance to make Bangalore a green and clean city which paves the way to a sustainable future





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