Pedal away to heal the planet

Project Diya aims at gifting pre-loved bicycles to people who can use them as a daily mode of transport

Published: 10th June 2021 07:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2021 07:36 AM   |  A+A-


The ‘Bicycle Mayor’ of Hyderabad, Santhana Selvan, has been working towards this cause for quite a few years.

Express News Service

HYDERABAD :  What’s a cool way to maintain physical distance while commuting, and also exercise and contribute to a greener Hyderabad at the same time? Bicycling! Recent reports show that the lockdown has improved the Air Quality Index of the city. The pollution level will, unfortunately, go back to square one once the city opens up again. This is when the government and commuters need to start thinking of adopting cleaner ways of transport and making the air cleaner. The pandemic has seen people taking measures to heal the planet, and adopting bicycles can be a potent way to do that.

The ‘Bicycle Mayor’ of Hyderabad, Santhana Selvan, has been working towards this cause for quite a few years. His recent initiative, Project Diya, aims to gift pre-loved bicycles to people who can use them as a daily mode of transport. 

express Illustration

“As far as cycling goes, the infrastructure is still at ground zero in Hyderabad. We see only two kinds of cyclists here — the ones who take it up for fitness, and the livelihood cyclists like newspaper boys, milk men etc. We are yet to see a serious shift in taking up cycles as a means of transport. 

Project Diya is aimed at making more and more people adopt bicycles. If anyone has an unused bicycle lying in their house, we urge them to donate it to us. We will repair, if needed, and give them to those who can use them for their daily needs.”

Project Diya was launched in collaboration with cycling community Happy Hyderabad, which was founded by Santhana and Dinesh Sale. As a ‘Bicycle Mayor’, Santhana’s aim is to reach the goal of 50*30, which means that by 2030, at least 50% of every trip we make in Hyderabad should be by bicycle.This honorary role was conferred to him by the BYCS, a social enterprise in Amsterdam.

Dr R Srinivasa Kumar, an associate professor in Osmania University with expertise in transportation, says: “The State government is yet to think seriously about creating the right infrastructure for bicyclists. There are a few cycling tracks in Hi-Tec City, Jubilee Hills and Necklace Road, but many of them are used as parking spaces. Earlier, officials used to take up road widening every three-five years to develop pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, but now, the focus is on building flyovers and Metro lines.

The migration of people to urban areas has been high in the last few years, but there has been no urban planning to match the inflow. I believe that if this government has the will to make a change, the money for the projects will flow in, but unfortunately, it is more focussed on populist schemes and garnering votes.” The Union Cycliste Internationale says, “Switching to cycling, walking and public transport are a few of the best changes an individual can make to reduce air pollution and congestion.

In cities in particular, where trips tend to be shorter, it is easier to take up cycling as a daily mode of transport. A 2018 UK study found that cyclists suffered the least exposure to air pollution during a 4-km journey, compared to those in cars, buses and even walkers.”

The Silent Killer WHO says

  • Air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide every year
  • 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds the WHO guideline limits containing high levels of pollutants
  • Low and middle-income countries suffer from the highest exposures

— Kakoli Mukherjee  @KakoliMukherje2


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