It was a different Sunday morning for eight-year-old Amulya Doss. She chose to get up early, get her cycle ready and pedal all the way to Jayanagar for a cycle ride organised by Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT). From people as old as 65 years to children as young as six participated with full enthusiasm in the cycle ride. For those who do not own a cycle, about 150 cycles were kept on the road to be rented for free.
Organised every last Sunday of the month, the cycle day anchored by DULT is in its third month.
“We started in October. The first two months we organised it in Cubbon Park. This time, we chose Jayanagar as we wanted more participation from residents. Also, Jayanagar happens to be one of those few areas in the city which has a cycle bay,” says V Manujnath, commissioner, DULT.
Apart from encouraging people to take to cycling, the event aims to fight for equal rights of pedestrians and cyclists. The main idea behind it is to take some space out on the roads for pedestrians and cyclists. “Obviously, we are not fighting against the motorists. All we want is a day in a week or a month where a certain portion of a road is blocked so that children can cycle around, play games, old people can walk, do anything they want without worrying about traffic and cars on the road,” says Manjunath.
The idea is extremely popular in the West. “Events like these instill confidence about cycling in people. Here, parents are not worried about their little kids cycling around as they know that other vehicles are not allowed on the road. The problem is not unique to India. Everywhere in the world, cyclists find it tough to get some space for themselves. However, we are positive and we want other cities to take a cue from Bangalore, which happens to be the cycling capital of the country,” says Rohan Kini, co-founder of Bums on the Saddle, a one stop bicycling shop. Kini and his team were present at the event to help people who faced any issue with their cycles.
Shweta Doss, a software engineer at Intel, came with her eight-year-old daughter. “She woke me up in the morning and urged me to join her. Though I do not cycle every day, I like such events that aim to bring a change in society,” says Doss.
In fact, Vasant Maiya, 61-year-old cycle enthusiast, came all the way from Nanded in Maharashtra to participate in the event. “My wife’s family stays near Lalbagh. They informed me about the event, and I came all the way just to participate. have been cycling for the past 30 years. I feel this is the cheapest and the easiest way to exercise,” he says.
Vijay Kumar, MLA of the area, came on time to encourage the cyclists. “All of us grew up cycling in the city. We need to create some space for cyclists as there are many who have no other option but to cycle to work,” he says.