BENGALURU: When fuel prices rose dramatically in the past, a popular meme that did the rounds was one of Batman going guns blazing on his Batmobile when fuel was affordable, and when prices shot up, a rather glum Batman is shown hitching a ride on Superman’s back. Well, Superman is obviously not an option, but thankfully bicycles are, and since petrol prices zoomed past Rs 90 and diesel touched Rs 85 in early April, more and more people are trying it as means of transport in Bengaluru.
Bicycle stores say queries about bicycles and sales have gone up in recent months, and there’s usually never just one reason to buy a bicycle.“Since mid-February, there have been at least six-nine inquiries a week about cycling to work. Around 75 per cent of these have translated into sales. Rising fuel prices are definitely the reason. But at the same time, people just want to get from A to B without hassle. Also, people want to boost fitness by cycling to work. We usually recommend hybrid bikes because the riding position is upright and it has medium-thick tyres,” says Rakshith Ravichandran, who handles distribution and maintenance of bicycles at Decathlon Anubhava on Ballari Road.
Freelance photographer Chandana Puttalingaiah believes rising fuel prices are all the more reason to switch. “I commute on my hybrid bike from JP Nagar for work in Yelachenahalli or Kumaraswamy Layout. It is about 50km per week and I easily save about Rs 6,000-7,000 a month by not using the car,” says Puttalingaiah.
Ravi Kumar, who works as technician in a bike shop, has been using his mountain bike from Electronics City to Jayanagar for the past four years. “I cover up to 40 km a day. It takes at least one hour on weekdays and little less on weekends. I save at least Rs 3,000 a month on fuel by cycling to work,” he says.
Founder of Bengaluru-based online bicycle store Bums On The Saddle Rohan Kini, says, “There is always a good reason to invest time in cycling, irrespective of the fuel price hike or the pandemic. All you need is the right size of cycle to bike to office.” According to Kini, cycle sales have risen by four times in the last three months, resulting in a supply shortfall in the Bengaluru market.
Bengaluru’s Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran has formed an online community through the ‘Cycle to Work’ website which has a list of commuters and their daily ridership details to offices. “People pedal to improve health and contribute to better air quality by reducing the use of fuel-run vehicles. This has significantly contributed to the reduction of carbon levels, as per the data on our community,” says Sankaran.