Rarely in India one comes across cycling tracks with vivid graffiti. But a new project IndiaCycles4Change challenge launched by the Smart Cities Mission, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has made this possible in the capital city. In Delhi’s Lodhi Garden and Lodhi Colony, along with the lush greenery and heritage architecture, is freshly painted street art over cycling tracks adding to the contemporary character of the area.
The project, in collaboration with Architecture for Dialogue, St+art India Foundation and SmartBike Mobility, has launched a week-long pilot to demonstrate and test a 6-km long cycle corridor, connecting neighbourhoods from India Gate to Lodhi Colony via Khan Market and Lodhi Garden. In addition to this, a temporary recreational cycle plaza has been made for cyclists at Lodhi Colony as an endpoint.
Abhimanyu Singhal is an architect who with Depanshu Gola, runs Architecture for Dialogue – a collective of architects and researchers who attempt to research and design initiatives to reimagine cities. For him, Lodhi Colony was the centrepoint of his imagination for using the space for the said initiative. Singhal says, “What better way to use Lodhi colony, which was already an experimental space created by St+art India Foundation, for street art...
When we reached out to NDMC for this project, we proposed the designing and planning where the recreational space could be planned. We had three elements in our proposal – safety, convenience and experience for greater public engagement. For experience, we collaborated with St+art India Foundation.” According to Thanish Thomas, Co-founder of St+art India Foundation, cycling has taken a very important place in this Covid era. He says: “A number of people have even started cycling to work.
The idea of this initiative was to use the power of art to promote cycling. In fact, in the Lodhi area we had previously organised a few cycling tours. In Delhi, we often see that people who drive are inconsiderate towards cyclists. Here we have blocked a space, and people are even bringing their kids here to enjoy. It is an amazing feeling to cycle over colours that artists Siddharth Gohil and Akhlaq Ahmad have painted in Lodhi Colony and inside the Lodhi Garden.” According to Gohil aka Khatra, “The idea was to create an inviting and dynamic environment through the composition of contrast colour schemes, organic shapes, and lines overlapping elements.
The whole stretch represents an abstract landscape that interacts directly and indirectly with viewers, people who cycle, run and take walks early in the morning. I think such places can play a major role in bringing the change.” For Ahmad aka Shabbu painter, Delhi’s well-known sign painter artist, it was a great experience to explore his inner sensibility of using a bright palette. He says, “With this artwork, I wanted to brighten the monotonous cycling tracks of Lodhi with bursts of colour that would further renew the joy and spirit of cycling.”