Environment and transport experts may be divided on Delhi government’s odd-even road rationing scheme, but a 69-year-old retired army colonel is convinced of its long-term benefits.
Surender Kumar Sharma is cycling from east Delhi’s Subhash Park Extension to Hoshiarpur in Punjab to mark his support for the odd-even initiative. He started his two-week trip from Welcome police station on Friday.
“With the number of vehicles rising fast in the city, cycling is the only way forward. We have exhausted our resources. Now, it is time to adopt eco-friendly alternatives for a better future. It is easy to say odd-even did not work. But if we cooperate with the government, we will get results,” said Sharma, before starting his trip.
In preparation for the 2,000km trip, he cleaned his 20-year-old bicycle that has the route painted on its bars. His residential address is also written on the bicycle so people can help him in case of emergency. Before he pedalled on, prayers were offered for his safety.
“Unfortunately, roads in the country are not safe for cyclists. People think you don’t deserve to be on the road. I know that the trip will be dangerous. But I believe in this cause and want to spread the message,” he said.
Sharma will bicycle from Jafrabad in Welcome to Garhshankar in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, via Karnal bypass in Haryana.
He is carrying a sharifa (custard apple sapling) that he will plant in Garhshankar. He will return to Delhi via Kapurthala.
Sharma’s son Kunal was also there to see him off. He said initially they were worried about his father’s decision, but later they supported him.
“He is almost 70 now and we were worried for his safety. But when he shared his vision with us, we were happy to support him. He is not just doing it for us, but for the future generations,” said Kunal.
Delhi government’s first round of odd-even was held from January 1 to 15 and the second from April 15 to 30.