KOCHI: A means to remain healthy; an alternative to reduce traffic congestion and an effective solution to pollution - a bicycle can prove to be all of these. Especially, in the wake of unheard illnesses and the clamour for smooth traffic flow, many in the city seem to consider cycle rides to be a viable option.
“Recently, the demand for bicycles have increased and people of all age group are finding it a welcome step,” says Ponnachan who owns a cycle repair shop and has been in the business for the past 25 years.
The fact that cycling keeps one healthy has lured in a lot of people to two-wheelers.
“Today, the trend surrounding cycles exist largely due to its sports value which is encouraged by cycle clubs across the city. The health factor plays a major role in the growing popularity of cycles,” remarks Fr Prasanth Palackappillil, the principal of Sacred Hearts College, Thevara, who is also an environmental activist.
“It is also necessary that we understand and consider the potential of bicycles in reducing pollution and easing the traffic flow,” he adds.
Cycles at Work Place
People from all fronts have come to realise the possibilities. The employees of institutions such as Cochin Shipyard, Naval Base and Infopark mostly depend on cycle to move around the premises.
According to K J Thomas, ex-manager of Cochin Shipyard, they make use of cycles inside the 170-acre Shipyard where various departments are situated far away.
It is mostly officers and supervisors who commute using bicycles.
“The Naval officers and the employees of Naval Base too resort to bicycles inside its spacious compound. They also undertake monthly and yearly cycle expeditions to various places in the state. Naval Base pays great attention to this activity. It helps generate awareness on health benefits. The yearly expeditions are mostly undertaken by the Navy officers to Thrissur, Kollam and Trivandrum,” says Sujatha, a Naval staffer.
A Fashion Statement
Gone are those days when cycles of only a particular model reigned the town. Today, bicycles too are considered fashion statement especially among school-going kids. The trend in town are those without carriers and mudguards. Geared cycles too are in demand for quite some time owing to the ease with which its users can navigate steep slopes.
“There are many who choose geared bicycles as it help easily climb a slope. Though students tend to opt for the new model bicycles without mudguards and carriers, there are still a considerable few who demand the old model that provide these facilities; mostly adults or senior citizens,” says Francis, a staff at Manoj Cycle Emporium.
cycle track needed in city
The idea mooted by the Better Kochi Response Group three years ago to construct a cycle track below the carriageway of the Kochi Metro was aimed at developing a greener Kochi. It was meant to promote the use of cycles as a prime mode of transportation. “If cycle lanes can be efficiently constructed in the city, it will definitely attract a large number of users. Such an arrangement would enable cyclists to reach their destinations fast as they will not be held up in traffic jams that currently clog the city,” says Fr Prasanth.
Cycling Clubs in Kochi
Paravoor Biker’s Club
A cycling club based in the North Paravur that was founded in May 2015
Athi’s Bicycle Club
A free cell-phone based bicycle sharing system running at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Technopark and Infopark
The bicycle club
The bicycle club was set up at Infopark Kochi campus for techies to use for intra-campus travel
Cochin Bikers Club
A cycling community, an eclectic group of bikers - randonneurs and sports professionals. It organises brevets in Kochi and is actively involved in promoting cycling towards a greener plane