HYDERABAD: You may have seen or ridden SmartBikes which are parked near Metro stations, and participated in a weekend bicycle fun ride around Necklace Road or KBR Park. All thanks to DV Manohar that the cycling culture was introduced in Hyderabad.
Ten years ago, the founding chairman of Shri Shakti Group had formed the Hyderabad Bicycling Club (HBC) with 800 members, which today has grown to 16,000 and is one of the leading cycling clubs in the world. Giving impetus to his cause, the World Cycling Alliance (WCA) has elected Manohar as its vice-president.
The only Indian board member in the Alliance, he speaks to Mayank Tiwari about his aim to make Hyderabad a cycle-friendly city like Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Belgium in a decade. He also spills the beans about working with the State to build 200 km of cycling tracks in the city. Excerpts:
You’ve long been a member of the WCA. Can you tell us how you landed the role of vice-president?
At the Global Cycling Summit, Velo City 2018 at Rio De Janeiro, I got unanimously elected as the vice-president for a three-year term. My efforts and activities taken up for WCA have been appreciated by the members worldwide. I organised a global webinar on promoting cycling in a post-Covid world, and it was a big success with thousands of people from across the globe participating in it.
What would be your duties/responsibilities as vice-president?
As the first vice-president of WCA, I will lead the organisation whenever Raluca Fiser, president of WCA, is unavailable. I will also promote cycling all over the world, particularly in Asia, and interact with international organisations such as the UN and its affiliates.
Your views on the cycling culture in Hyderabad?
We started a cycling revolution in Hyderabad through HBC. It is heartening to see more and more people taking to cycling in Hyderabad in the past few years.
What’s your growth strategy for the Hyderabad Bicycling Club?
We plan to organise more and more cycling events to inculcate the habit among Hyderabadis. We promote riding in groups over the popular weekend rides.
You’ve participated in several global cycling tours/trips. What was the experience like? How do you plan to replicate this for cyclists in Hyderabad?
I have cycled in all the continents. A notable one was the London to Paris challenge, which I successfully completed twice with my son and daughter. We completed the 518-km ride, which was spread across challenging terrains, in less than four days. We have been organising 20-100 km cycle rides in Hyderabad regularly and the response is great. We encourage our members to take up long-distance rides, such as Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Hyderabad to Goa, Bengaluru and Chennai, among others. Several of our members have completed these rides.
Many people have bicycles, but are unable to use them due to inadequate infrastructure. Do you have any plans to work with the government to develop bicycle-friendly infrastructure in Hyderabad?
We constantly pursue the State government to build dedicated cycling lanes and to encourage people to cycle. The government is working on developing dedicated cycling tracks of 200 km.
How much time would it take for Hyderabad to be like Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Belgium, where cyclists are respected on the road?
If both the government and the people focus on making Hyderabad a cycling city, it will happen within a decade. The State government has to create dedicated cycling tracks and offer an incentive for cycling. On the other hand, the people should learn to respect cyclists and cycle more often.
How do you stay fit?
Every morning, I practise pranayam for 30 minutes and yoga for one hour. On an average, every day, I walk 10,000 steps a day. My food intake starts with raw garlic followed by sprouts and fruits for breakfast, millets with curries for lunch, and idli/uttapam for dinner.