Appointed The City’s Bicycle Mayor, Sathya Sankaran Hopes To Find More Space On Bengaluru’s Roads By Adding More Cyclists To The Picture…
As more vehicles join the traffic in Bengaluru every day, there is one man who moves faster than all of them, and on two wheels. Meet Sathya Sankaran, Bengaluru’s Bicycle Mayor, who advocates riding bicycles for more reasons than one. In a city that desperately needs more space on its roads, Sankaran has the solution.
“People often do not realise how nice it is to ride a bicycle. It isn’t considered ‘cool’ but I think it’s quite awesome that you can be fitter, save money and contribute to the environment at the same time, and all this while getting to places faster too,” Sankaran says.
In April 2018, Dutch NGO ByCS headed to India with the aim of catalysing bicycling activity in the country. Bicycle mayors were appointed to represent those who ride bicycles and to convey its benefits to people. Sankaran admits that cycling had lost its place in his life for a long time.
“I used to cycle a lot when I was a kid, up until college. The economy was booming and cars and bikes were becoming available. We didn’t realise what it meant to be cycling for a long time, but around seven years ago, health problems led me back to swimming, cycling and running. For six years since I’ve been cycling long distances. I sometimes ride 100 kms over the weekends, I bike to work twice or thrice a week. It really is an efficient way to go about, especially in this city,” he says.
Sankaran adds that the Bike to Work program, one of his initiatives since being appointed the Bicycle Mayor, has seen a lot of people change their lifestyle. “There are so many IT people in the city who tend to use their car for distances that could take much lesser time on a bicycle. Being in a city with such beautiful weather, we have our own comfort zones that we are now used to. I think Bangalore is the best place to be the ‘Cycling Capital’ of India and that is my aim.”
Sankaran also believes that though Bengaluru’s roads aren’t the friendliest for cyclists, that isn’t the real reason that there aren’t too many on the road. “The roads in the city have never prevented anybody from cycling. Congestion is a cyclist’s best friend. If the traffic is moving slow, it is easy to cycle and you are safer, which is the case in Bengaluru most of the time. The important thing is to begin. Even if you cycle at a recreational level, you’ll feel the freedom. Every time you get out of your house, you have a choice of putting your hands on your car, scooter, or bicycle, depending on what trip you are making.”
Sankaran believes that by the year 2030, 50% of Bengaluru’s population should be using a bicycle. “The target is 50% mode share. This implies that half the trips being made in the city is with a cycle. Something like that would make a huge difference to the pollution and also since it is small, easy and nimble and saves space, suddenly all the space will become available. Even a 20% mode share will find us with less traffic to deal with and that has to be the future of mobility in big cities.”
How you can help? CYCLE!
This article is a part of the #HeroesWearBlue campaign, where we bring to you stories of Bengaluru’s heroes – people among us who strive for a better world. Do you know an everyday hero? Tweet to us @bengalurufc now!