Cycling gains favour in Bengaluru, but concerns remain

‘As the demand for cycling is increasing, infrastructure should be put in place accordingly’

May 15, 2022 10:20 pm | Updated May 16, 2022 03:05 pm IST - Bengaluru

According to Bengaluru’s Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran, the number of both cyclists and cycling groups in the city has increased.

According to Bengaluru’s Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran, the number of both cyclists and cycling groups in the city has increased. | Photo Credit: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

Be it for physical fitness or general commuting, the pandemic has put the pedal to the metal for cycling in the city. Hesitance to use public transport such as buses and taxis in the last two years also contributed to people shifting to cycling.

Bengaluru’s Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran said the number of both cyclists and groups had increased in the city. “Apart from professional cyclists, many people have started using cycles for daily commute. One of the main reasons is that after the pandemic outbreak, gyms were closed for so long. To be fit and for fresh air, cycling became a natural choice, as roads were also traffic-free,” he said.

Due to increased demand and disruptions in supply of branded cycles, people had to wait for months to buy a bicycle.

Tanmai Jain, a cyclist and trainer, said, “When the pandemic was at its peak, people were confined to their homes. There were restrictions on the movement of people to contain the spread of the virus. As the lockdown restrictions were eased, many health-conscious people started using cycles. It was the best available option to exercise in their neighbourhood.”

Though it is a good sign that more people are shifting to an environmentally friendly mode of commute, riding on the city’s roads is not easy. “Under the Smart City project, we got some dedicated cycle tracks for the first time. But that is not enough as the demand for cycling is increasing and infrastructure should be put in place accordingly. Most professional cyclists go to the outskirts for practice and training,” said Mr. Sankaran.

Raghunatha Y.L., a Yelahanka Cyclists group member, said, “There are hardly any lanes dedicated for cyclists. On those roads where lanes for cyclists are available, they have been illegally occupied by motorists. Cars, autos, and bikes are seen parked on these lanes and make them unusable.” He added that potholes and poor road conditions are other challenges cyclists are facing.

Nitin Gejtap of Bangalore Randouners, a group of cyclists, said, “Normally, for long distances, we used to go to the highways. In city limits, it is very difficult to do long-distance cycling. For the benefit of cyclists, the authorities should ensure that good roads and dedicated lanes are provided on major roads.”

Girishina Kartik, touted to be the first Indian woman to finish the ISAN 2020 ride on a loop across north eastern Thailand, and who has a world record for the fastest tandem ride between Delhi and Mumbai, had other concerns to share: “I always feel the southern part of India is more safe for women cyclists. But some problems we face are on our long distance rides - shortage of washrooms and safety.”

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