Mumbai goes the social distance, to get 24 bicycle councillors
At a time when walking and cycling are gaining importance across global cities, Mumbai is set to get 24 bicycle councillors, one for each of the 24 wards, with an aim to promote cycling in the city. Cycle sales in the city have also gone up as more and more citizens are opting for sustainable transport that ensures social distancing.
The Smart Commute Foundation, founded by city’s first bicycle mayor, Firoza Suresh, is currently in the process of selecting bicycle councillors. A panel consisting of experts from urban planning will scan and select candidates by June-end.
They will be councillors for the next two years.
“The vision is to make Mumbai the cycling capital of the world by 2030. We want to promote cycling and make Mumbai a bicycle-friendly city. The councillors will be expected to interact with stakeholders that include civic authorities, corporators, MLAs, NGOs, schools and colleges look at setting up docks, cycling paths and also create a zone in each ward to undertake training,” Suresh said.
The foundation has started a campaign “Cycle Chala City Bacha” telling citizens the importance of cycling.
Shahid Shaikh, who owns three cycle shops in the city, said all cycles are sold out after he re-opened the shops in June. “If we used to sell 100 cycles before the lockdown, we are selling close to 300 now. People are also ready to pay and wait for high-end cycles to be delivered, which was never the case before,” Shaikh said.
The Centre and state government have also appealed to citizens to take up cycling for short distance travel. In its Mission Begin Again notification released on May 31, the Maharashtra government encouraged cycling as a form of physical exercise “as it automatically ensures social distancing”.
Cities like London, Dublin and Sydney are being reshaped to accommodate more cyclists and pedestrians on its roads.