They aren’t caged in a car when they commute to work and they definitely aren’t bogged down by rising fuel prices. Cyclists share their liberating experience.
Peter Colaco’s book Bangalore reveals that in the 60s, a bicycle was the preferred mode of transport. Are those days really history, one wonders. There’s hardly space to squeeze your vehicle in the city’s notorious traffic. How stress free it would be ride your bicycle avoiding traffic by using the less-crowded back roads and saving nearly half an hour of your commute everyday! Added to this is the joy of losing those stubborn love handles.
More and more Bangaloreans are considering cycling a viable commute option. The dearth of bicycle lanes and pollution doesn’t seem to deter this decision.
Pradeep Naidu lives in Banashankari and rides nearly 50 kilometres to his office at ITPL Whitefield. Naidu says he has not missed a single day in the two years since he began riding his bicycle to work. “I started cycling to shed a few extra kilos. I loved cycling so much that I go to work just to be able to ride the bicycle! I save around Rs. 8,000 a month which would otherwise be spent on fuel and car maintenance. I even ask people in their cars when they are stuck in a jam to switch to a cycle.”
People who cycle to work feel more active. “I used to ride my cycle to college but I stopped after getting a job,” says Suhas Mogali who travels to JP Nagar 7th Phase from Jayanagar 4th T-Block. “I recently upgraded to an all-terrain bike. I prefer using back roads to avoid congestion and pollution. I feel more active ever since I started biking again. It saves me a lot of time which I would have been wasted had I continued using a bus or car.”
There is camaraderie among cyclists. “No matter where you ride, if you meet another bicyclist on the road, they will always be friendly, wave at you and give you a cordial smile,” says Chirag Singal, a student of Christ University who rides to college from Koramangala and then to practice at Vasanthnagar on his hybrid bike. “This is hardly possible in a car. I sometimes chat with other cyclists and make friends on my way to college or football practice. At M.G road when nearly 300 vehicles wait at the signal during peak hours, I simply weave my way through the traffic or wheel my bike off the road and carry on. In the worst case, I carry it on my shoulders.”
Traffic rules apply to cyclists as much as any other vehicle on the road. However, they may face problems like Ebony Bertorelli who cycles around four kilometres to work at Sheshadipuram. “I feel people here are just beginning to accept bicycles as traffic, yet not as much as in the West. Here, cyclists often get pushed to the side of the road and honked at. But I cycle to work as it is an environmentally responsible choice and great fun.”
Monica Pillai bikes seven kilometres to work taking the Indiranagar 80 feet HAL route to Frazer town and feels a bicycle is as safe as a motorbike. “Reckless drivers would swerve and cut across regardless of the vehicle one uses. If speed is not a big deal, busy roads can be taken keeping to the left and being aware of vehicles around you. Concerns regarding safety arise when women ride to work but taking common precautionary measures like not riding alone and informing a friend when it gets late is always advised.”
“It is important for everyone on the road to extend courtesy to each other as they all share the same space,” says Pavan Muthanna, owner of a bicycle store in Fraser Town. “As a cyclist you can’t push people on the footpath and at the same time be reckless around cars and jump the signal. Four wheelers should be sensitive to cycles, as much as cyclists to other traffic and pedestrians.”