Ashish Gupta, a software engineer in an MNC, rides a bicycle to his office every morning. His wife Priyanka too prefers a bicycle, whenever there is an opportunity.
The Guptas are just one of many Delhi couples who — concerned about doing their bit for the environment — are shifting from four-wheelers to cycles to lessen the traffic snarls in the capital. Taking ownership for the overall improvement of the city he calls home, Ashish says “I ride my bicycle whenever I can. This is my personal contribution to the environment.”
The bicycle campaign has cut across the usual divides formed by age and profession with people from different walks of life switching to cycles. Delhi’s cyclists don’t just ride them to work or to the market but also take every opportunity they get to go for mass cycle rides to popularise the humble “saikil.” Among those who’ve helped the cause are supercop Kiran Bedi.
While some people rely almost exclusively on their bicycles for transport — to the maximum extent possible — others have pledged to reserve at least one day a week to travel only on their cycles.
“It is a lot of fun. Avoiding motorised transport might seem strange as a concept but it’s a fulfiling feeling because at the end of the day you know you did your bit,” says Vijay Chauhan. In some cases, it is entire families who’ve taken up cycles in tandem.
Usha Murali, a high school teacher from R K Puram went on a mass bicycle ride for popularisation of cycles recently, on her daughter’s urging. “My daughter uses it to go to college. Delhi is among the most beautiful cities in the world and we must join hands to reduce the pollution,” she explains.
Pushing the pedals for the mass cycling initiative is the Delhi Cycling Club (DCC), an NGO, which has been lobbying with the Delhi government to create separate lanes for cyclists. DCC programme director, Nalin Sinha asserts “statistics show that most Delhi commuters travel less than six kilometres a day. If all of them switched to bicycles, the city roads and environmental pollution levels would show drastic improvement.”
DCC is asking the government to declare an official day for cyclists and is waiting for the “world class cycling corridor from Ambedkar Nagar Bus Terminal to Delhi Gate” to be opened to the public. It seems that clean environment in Delhi can begin with a bicycle ride.