Freedom, mental health, physical endurance, fight against pollution and climate change, reduction in fuel consumption, one less car on the road, biodiversity conservation, cheaper mode of travel—cycling means different things to different people.
On the occasion of 75 years of Independence, 75 women cyclists from here and Kochi spoke about why they cycle in a video that underscores the messages of freedom, health and environmental conservation.
From students to those in their seventies, 30 members of the Indus Cycling Embassy (ICE) here and 40 in Kochi, talked about the importance of cycling in their lives.
Zeenath M.A., secretary, ICE Sheroes, Kochi, has been cycling for less than nine months but has already taught cycling to nearly 250 women in the Mattancherry area. She is currently training 30-odd women at the Gujarati school there. Nearly 40% of those who learnt cycling now use it for their day-to-day requirements and for going to work.
“The joy that a woman in her 40s or 50s experiences when she learns cycling cannot be described in words.” Prakash Gopinath, bicycle mayor of Thiruvananthapuram, says besides pollution control and environmental conservation, the sense of freedom that cycling offers is very important. It allows women to go outside their homes, without depending on anyone else. It also provides women an opportunity to get together and communicate with other women, and alleviate the stress of everyday life or being cooped up inside four walls.
Zeenath began by training 25 women. Within a month-and-a-half, the numbers had increased to 85. Most of them are financially backward. “Women who work in the field can now cover more area while those who do household chores can visit two or three houses. My oldest student is 74 years old.”
Zeenath teaches cycling in the morning and evening, while on Sundays, she may arrange a long ride for the women. “ Zindagi ek hi hai, azadi se jiyo (there is only one life, live free),” says Zeenath in the video.
The women also have slogans for why they cycle—‘Go further, go faster, go green,’ ‘Have fun without fuel,’ ‘Cycle for a cause,’ ‘One less car,’ ‘Check pollution, use cycle,’ and so on.
The video was shot by Zeenath and O. Beena, secretary, ICE Sheroes, Thiruvananthapuram. Beena’s daughter Madhur B., the former Junior Bicycle Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram, coordinated the project. Zeenath and Beena released the video on Wednesday.