Fitness

In tandem with the environment

Prized possessions Kumar owns a replica of a Penny Farthing

Prized possessions Kumar owns a replica of a Penny Farthing   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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PK Kumar is Coimbatore’s Bicycle Mayor and he has plans to grow the idea of more and more people pedaling for change

Nothing screams GREEN than bicycling and for the eco-conscious Coimbatoreans, PK Kumar brings some hope. He is part of a global network of Bicycle Mayors that is pushing for the bicycle as an affordable, accessible and a clean transport alternative to noisy, smoke belching vehicles. As a Bicycle Mayor Kumar will persuade more and more people of the city to start using bicycles. “BYCS is an organisation in the Netherlands who promote cycling around the world and pick Bicycle Mayors in cities who will take their initiative further. Their goal is to have 50 per cent of the world population cycling by 2030,” explains Kumar. The aim is to reduce environmental pollution, reduce traffic congestion and set right lifestyle disorders we are battling, he adds.

A physiotherapist by profession, fitness has always been close to 46-year-old Kumar’s heart and he is an avid cyclist himself (says he has been cycling for 25 years now). When he learnt about a global initiative of a Dutch social enterprise called BYCS that aims to transform cities by promoting cycling as a clean and green mode of transport, he was hooked. BYCS was appointing Bicycle Mayors across the world and Kumar applied and after five rounds of interview was selected to be a Bicycle Mayor for Coimbatore. (There are 51 Bicycle Mayors across India, mostly in major cities).

There are specific projects and plans that will take shape once Kumar returns from a Summit of Bicycle Mayors to be held in Bengaluru early next month, he says. But for now, he has already begun the work of spreading the word. “I am supporting existing bicycle clubs in the city; I have spoken to a few schools and colleges about the huge benefits of cycling and in September this year I began the Inspire Coimbatore Cycling Group. A community of shop owners and their families at Saravanampati, more than 50 of them, cycle regularly now. I have urged them to use their cycles if they are moving in a five-kilometre radius,” he says. Kumar hopes that more and more schools, colleges, Corporates and housing colonies will join in this movement and bring about change.” He wants to support an initiative of a city college to encourage government school students to cycle more.

One of Kumar’s most prized possessions is a Penny Farthing. It is a replica of a 1870 model. It was love at first sight when he saw it at a cycle exhibition in Thiruvananthapuram. “I wanted to buy it but the shop was not willing to sell,” he says. But he persuaded the manager of the cycle shop that had organised the exhibition to let him at least ride the Penny Farthing. And ride he did, all the way downhill from the Ponmodu Hill top down to Kallar tackling 22 hairpin bends. So impressed was the manager that he gifted the Penny Farthing to Kumar. “It is tough riding the Penny Farthing. But exhilarating and it is always a conversation starter. Many people want to take selfies with me and my cycle,” he laughs.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 3:08:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/a-chat-with-pk-kumar-coimbatores-bicycle-mayor/article29841479.ece

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