THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Have you ever thought of going out on a bicycle, to office, for shopping, et al? Well, Menampadath Sebastian has, and he derives an incomparable pleasure riding his bicycle, for which he has given priority space in his car porch.
Sebastian, 78, has been riding his bicycle for the past 65 years, balancing an umbrella in one hand.
He learnt cycling from Kodancheri, a hilly hamlet at Thiruvampady in Kozhikode. He used to cover inaccessible distances in his bicycle then.
“Bicycle was the only reliable and affordable vehicle during my school days. Even though the vehicle was replaced by bikes, scooters and cars, I kept on adoring the humble vehicle,” says Sebastian.
In those days, Sebastian used to cycle from Kozhikode to Adivaram, about 35 km, on his bicycle at least once in a week. “Speeding on a cycle was one of my passions,” Sebastian recalls.
“As swift changes came in the motor vehicles sector, cycle was looked upon with contempt by people, except by the wise and the poor,” he says. However, he says that people are becoming bicycle-conscious in cities nowadays. He feels travelling by bicycle saves money on fuel, it reduces traffic congestion and is pollution-free. Moreover, it energises you and keeps you fit and strong.
While cycling in the Netherlands is a major transport mode with the modal share for trips by bicycle being 27 per cent of all trips (urban and rural) nationwide, people living in cities with the same terrain as that of the Netherlands are reluctant to use bicycles, says Sebastian.
According to him, ventures like the Cycle Promotion Council can add some zeal to the developing cycling culture in the city. “Realising the potential of cycling, the All-Kerala Bicycle Promotion Council members are engaged in launching various cycle promotion initiatives,” says Sebastian.
C E Chakkunni, convener of AKBPC, along with his colleagues, is conducting a tour across various countries in Europe to know more about the new cycling trends.
“Though we still have a long way to go, I think we are heralding a change for the good. I am sure Kozhikode will soon wake up to see cycles on its streets and roads,” says Sebastian.
“Some people are reluctant to ride cycles on city roads owing to safety concerns. If cycling is developing as a strong alternative, a deserved space can be given for cyclists on roads,” says Sebastian.