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Cycle your way to health, say experts

Serena Josephine. M
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Rising fuel costs and congested roads apart, here’s one more reason, a rather compelling one, to leave your car behind.

Last year, the World Health Organisation (

WHO) classified diesel fumes as group I carcinogen putting it at the same risk level as tobacco smoke.

This has once again turned the focus on the need for pollution-free, safe and environment-friendly means of transport in the city.

Experts at the Cancer Institute, Adyar, said the WHO classification had added vigour to their campaign highlighting the importance of cycling.

For some time now, the department of psycho-oncology at the Cancer Institute has been working on creating awareness and motivating people to take up physical activity, particularly cycling.

“Emission from diesel engines has been causing harm to the environment and to people’s healths. Now, we are stressing the importance of cycling and the need for dedicated cycle tracks on city roads,” said E. Vidhubala, associate professor of the department.

The department has been urging people to use bicycles for regular commuting during the institute’s youth health melas, Ms. Vidhubala said. And some, like 45-year-old Jayaram Balasubramaniam of Thiruvanmiyur, have taken it up seriously.

“For six months now, I have been cycling nearly 50 km a day, from Kotivakkam to Vadapalani, to meet customers for my printing business. When I cycle, I feel refreshed unlike riding a two-wheeler which gives me a backache,” he said.

L.B. Suresh Kumar, one of the founders of the Tamil Nadu Cycling Club, said cycling had no side effects. “Many doctors advise their patients to take up cycling for physical activity,” he said.

But is the city friendly to cyclists? “Motorists do not respect cyclists. It would be better if city roads had separate tracks for cycling,” Mr. Balasubramaniam said.

The TN Cycling Club has sent a request to the government for dedicated bicycle lanes. “But, nothing can be done until Metro Rail work is completed. Riding through city traffic is very tough and unsafe for cyclists. We have also asked for arrangements to enable cyclists to carry bicycles in buses and also in trains,” he said.

“I tried to cycle from my residence in Alwarpet to Adyar and it took 18 to 20 minutes. In a car, the travel time is 15 minutes but it takes at least 45 minutes to reach home in the evenings. There is no fuel cost and it keeps one physically active,” Ms. Vidhubala said.

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