A 100 bells and a bike

With road safety awareness in mind, Mumbai cyclist Vijay Malhotra turns into a bell bike man

Updated - May 17, 2024 02:44 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 09:14 pm IST

Vijay Malhotra and his 101 bells cycle

Vijay Malhotra and his 101 bells cycle | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Until recently, Vijay Malhotra was busy as a sales planner with a media house in Mumbai. Then a fortnight ago, he took out his bicycle — Firefox Road Runner Pro fitted with 101 uniquely crafted bells with charming designs — and rode through the busy streets of Bandra. As he ‘tring tringed’ his way through traffic grabbing eyeballs, onlookers and passers-by spontaneously gave him a new title, ‘The Bell Man’.

“I think I looked like a character straight out of a storybook and people stopped me to enquire about my interest,” smiles the 41-year-old, who aims to spread the message of road safety with the sight and sounds of the bells.

Though a trip to Paris in 2018 rekindled his romance with cycling, it was only after visiting the Netherlands last June, that he decided to transform his ‘cycling to keep fit’ mission into a creative journey. “Along the canals of Amsterdam, I met the Flower Bike Man and saw the attraction and impact of his flamboyantly decorated bikes that spread cheer and smiles among the people,” says Vijay.

Vijay Malhotra and his 101 bells cycle

Vijay Malhotra and his 101 bells cycle | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

New mission

He purchased three intricately designed bells adorned with picturesque windmill motifs from Delft, a city in south Holland, and on returning to Mumbai, began thinking about how to infuse similar energy and happiness on the streets of his home-town and other cities across the country.

In Mumbai, Vijay hit the wholesale Kalbadevi Market and stumbled upon Life 99 Bells, a suitable, affordable substitute for the Dutch bells . “With assistance from a local shopkeeper, I got  100 bells from Ludhiana, paving the way for my ambitious 101 Bell Bike project,” he says. Vijay did not want his bells to be identical; he wanted them to be creatively distinct, vibrant, and eye-catching. Artist Chanchal Joshi was roped in to customise the 100 bells  using decoupage art.

The 101 bells bike of Mumbai's Bell Man

The 101 bells bike of Mumbai's Bell Man | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Vijay’s primary concern was also to ensure  the artwork remained dust-free, water and  heat-resistant. He found a trusted bicycle mechanic Faisal Thakur, to meticulously instal 101 bells on his bicycle. It was delivered to him on May 2 and the reaction from his family, friends and colleagues was all joy.

“I took it out first on May 5 and the public response  overwhelmed me,” says Vijay who now dreams of riding his bicycle across the country to draw attention towards road safety. I want to raise awareness about safe lane driving and how to increase cyclist visibility on roads,” says Vijay, who plans to come to Delhi  soon.

Vijay Malhotra and his 101 bells ccyle

Vijay Malhotra and his 101 bells ccyle | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Vijay has turned into a blogger and vlogger with his cycling advocacy and started a YouTube channel aptly called “Pedal and Tring Tring”. “My cycle with 101 bells is a powerful reminder of prioritising every cyclist’s safety,” says Vijay who is a recipient of the 2023 World Bicycle Day Award of the United Nations for ‘Excellence in Promoting Cycling for All’.

Akansha Sharma

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