Amid all the enthusiasm that residents of Mumbai showed for the Cyclothon, there was also a clear message they sent out at the end of the race: it is high time Mumbai takes to cycling seriously and regularly.
“If the city has space for so many hutments, it can definitely make space for a cycling tracks,” said Kulwinder Singh, a former national-level rugby player who participated in the 12-km Green Race. Singh believes that the roads from Bandra to Khar can comfortably accommodate a separate track for cyclists.
Many participants felt that to cut down on pollution, Mumbaiites need to cycle more often than just in an annual cycling race.
“The change should come at the level of children. Schools must train children in the sport and organise monthly cycling competitions in each ward or locality,” said Pat Furtado (50), who has been a hockey player for India and is now the sports manager at Mahim’s Bombay Scottish School (BSS). She believes that it is children who can convince their parents about the health benefits of cycling, and get them to cut down the use of cars.
Dismissing questions of whether cycling tracks are viable on city’s roads, Furtado said: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We also want hoardings at every junction displaying a helpline number in case of accidents.”
Many children who rode for the 2-km race agree. “So many countries in Europe have space only for cyclists. We should have it too,” said David D’Souza, a Class 8 student of BSS, where Furtado intends to start cycle races.