Cyclists' run-in with walkers

Cycle Day, an initiative to encourage cycling in the city, is being objected to by Cubbon Park Walkers\' Association who think the event is just lip-service.

Published: 16th October 2013 07:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2013 07:39 AM   |  A+A-


An idea can be developed. An idea can be destroyed too. So when campaigners who were promoting cycling in the city as an idea that could have multi-dimensional benefits, the Walker's association of Cubbon Park finds it tough to exercise.

For the campaigners who want to replicate the 'successful' bus day concept, the idea of Cycle Day came about when several citizen groups who work in the area of sustainable transportation joined hands with cycling communities and enthusiasts to think about ways to promote cycling in the city. Neha Dar, a spokesperson for Cycle Day Campaign states, "The Directorate of Urban Transport has agreed to anchor the campaign. BMTC, BMRC and the traffic police have extended their support as well, and are key partners for the campaign,"

The cycle friendly team began to address a fundamental question on what stops ordinary citizens from adopting cycling as a real alternative to motorised transport. "To extend the cycling buzz beyond the already converted community of cycling enthusiasts, it was vital for the campaign to tackle this problem head-on. Certainly improvements are needed in terms of infrastructure, cycling lanes and respect for cyclists on our roads. But beyond these factors, we realised that many people are hesitant to give cycling a shot because they have this perception that cycling on city roads can be dangerous, difficult, and unpleasant. We believe that dismantling this fear of cycling will go a long way in encouraging people to take up pedaling," says Neha.

But the Walkers' Association has a problem. The campaigners have planned their first event, 'Feel Bengaluru Cycle Day', on the 27th of October in Cubbon Park.

The association is unhappy with the Cubbon Park space being used for the cycle day campaign. Umesh S, president of the association says, "Our walkers are really disinterested in such campaigns. Today there will be a Cycle campaign, tomorrow Green Auto people will want to be part of such campaigns. And all this is a one day affair. We really don't know whether they come here to protect the environment or to just show off. A one day campaign like this will never create awareness but will only lead to more mess inside the park. If they are so concerned, let them take up the initiative of cleaning the garden every month."

The president does find support. Ramalingam, a member of the Walkers' Association says, "Why is it that they would want to choose only Cubbon Park. They can go to Lal Bagh or even opt for Palace Grounds. The only reason being that Cubbon Park is free for all. Instead they should encourage cycling on busy roads," he says.

But Neha and her team of campaigners seems to be undeterred. And to make the experience a little more comfortable, they have roped in BMTC which will allow citizens to carry their cycles in any BMTC Volvo bus between 7-10 am on Cycle Day - a first of its kind experiment in any Indian city.

"The cycle-bus combination could invite a lot of commuters," she says.

And they are not stopping with just the Cycle Day. In the months that follow, they want to build on the momentum and introduce 'Cycle to Work' events, encouraging people who live within 5-10 kms of their workplaces to use their cycles to get to work.

"We want to work with office campuses so that too they do their bit to promote cycling by ensuring cycle stands are in place, and by perhaps even providing cycle rentals within campus premises," explains Neha.

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