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Celebrate World Car Free Day and opt for public transport

You can also try to rewind your life a bit and bring out those bicycles and pedal down the roads as if it were yesterday once more.

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Team DNA

Updated: Sep 22, 2011, 02:22 AM IST

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Every day tens of thousands of private cars, two-wheelers, buses, trucks — the list can go on — ply on the city’s roads, adding to global warming and destroying whatever is left of an already battered environment.

But today you can do your bit for the environment.

How? Leave your car in the garage because it is World Car Free Day and take the public transport to work. Or try to rewind your life a bit and bring out those bicycles and pedal down the roads as if it were yesterday once more.

People from across the globe take to the streets on September 22 to point out how cars, motorbikes and other motorised transport affect the environment. Mumbaikars, too, have decided to not only observe the day but also tell people of the various alternative modes of transport available.

“The ever-growing number of private cars is making the city more crowded and polluted,” Tanya Satish, a college student, said. Tanya along with other students, activists and the public at large will participate in a cycle rally around Powai and neighbouring areas.

The group is hopeful of convincing residents of the area to leave their cars behind and walk or cycle short distances. “Cycles are more eco-friendly and good for health as well,” Minal Sambrani said. She always cycles to nearby areas and takes public transport, mainly buses and trains, when she needs to go to far-off places.

The group has been going door to door urging people to join their campaign on Thursday. “If we can convince a handful of people to dump their cars, even if it is for a day, pollution levels will come down considerably,” Elsie Gabriel, environmentalist, said. Gabriel has been holding such rallies in Powai for the past three years. “The youth have the power to change people’s mindsets. They are our biggest allies,” she said.

The group has tied up with World Car-Free Network, an emerging platform that brings together like-minded people who aim to create spaces within cities across the world to reduce the usage of cars.

“We need to create awareness about wasteful energy consumption,” Rahul Sharma, banker, said. He has pledged not to use his car on weekends. “I either walk or cycle.”

Several environmentalists say cycling is slowly but surely catching up in the city. While children usually pedal inside society premises, there are many who cycle short distances. And there is a growing breed of cycle enthusiasts who are willing to invest thousands, even lakhs, for a good bicycle.

Pushkar Vora, owner of one of the oldest bicycle stores in the city, Kohinoor Cycle in Bandra, said people started buying costly bicycles a year or two ago. “Several international brands have set up shop in the city… Trek, Merida, Schwinn, Cannondale, to name a few,” he said. “You can even get Mercedes or Ferrari cycles in the car showrooms. There must be at least 50 people who own cycles that cost more than a lakh. The number is quite high for cycles in the range of Rs20,000-50,000.”

Feroz Lakdawala, 33, has four bicycles, three of which are from a premium brand (each costs more than a lakh). “I have been cycling for the past seven years. Initially, I used to cycle twice a week. Nowadays I cycle every alternate day,” the hotelier said.

Aseer Khatir of Bandra has a cycle from the Mercedes stable that costs more than a lakh. Vishal Sharma, another cycling enthusiast, spent a couple of lakhs to buy three premium cycles — a Ferrari and two Mercedes.

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