For Bengalureans desiring to learn cycling but may have struggled in the past, or for those who once loved cycling as a child but haven’t had the confidence to ride in a while, there is now an opportunity to get back on the saddle.
On March 19, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) and Karnataka Bicycle Dealers’ Association (KBDA) launched a free-for-all bicycle training program called Pedal Shaale in Cubbon Park. Training sessions will take place every Sunday from 8 to 10 a.m.
The initiative was launched along with Bangalore Bicycle School (BBS), Citizens for Sustainability (CIFoS), and Decathlon.
V. Manjula, Commissioner of DULT, said, “The objective of Pedal Shaale is to provide opportunities to people of all ages and gender to learn to cycle on the city’s roads.”
Earlier, BBS conducted a ‘train the trainers’ workshop where they trained 12-14 bicycle trainers for the Pedal Shaale programme.
When asked about the infrastructure for cycling on city roads, Ms. Manjula said, “DULT is working to improve cycling infrastructure. We have developed certain designs and given them to the BBMP and Bengaluru Smart City Limited. While some suggestions have been implemented, the city lacks a proper network (of cycle paths). We want to make it a complete and connected design. A cycling network plan will be prepared and given to the BBMP. We are also working on a segregated cycling path so that people feel safe,” she said.
Talking about the existing infrastructure, she said that there are cycle parking spaces in government schools. DULT would like to take it a step further by collaborating with BMRCL and BMTC, and make parking spaces for cycles available at all metro and bus stations.
Sathya Shankaran, co-founder of CIFoS and the Bicycle Mayor of Bangalore, said, “CIFoS is a non-profit organisation. We work around mobility in the neighbourhood, and with citizens to see how we can increase non-motorised transportation.”
Sunday cycle training has been functional in Cubbon Park for the last few years, but CIFoS has partnered with BBS to see how to expand the programme, he said.
“Pedal Shaale’s goal is to do to cycling what driving training schools did to motor vehicles,” Mr Sathya said.
Addressing the concerns of safety on Bengaluru roads for cyclists, he said that the roads might be congested and annoying but they are not as dangerous as they seem. “We want to get people comfortable and confident, and want them to realise what they are missing,” he added. He urged people to get on a bicycle to run small errands and see how different the city is from a bicycle than from behind a car window.
Umee Hani, a student who participated in Pedal Shaale, hadn’t cycled since school. The training session helped a lot. “I thought I had forgotten how to cycle, but I was riding with full confidence in just 15 minutes,” she said.