When in doubt, pedal it out

As Part Of Bengaluru FC’s For The Planet Initiative, We’re Promoting The Use Of Bicycles And Other Modes Of Pollution Free Transportation For A Healthy Living, And A Healthier Planet…

Bengaluru’s traffic woes over the last decade and a half need no real highlighting. And the Silk Board memes seem to get more relatable with every passing day. Since the boom of the IT sector in the city, a high number of outstation vehicles have added to the already existing tally, and this has had a direct impact on the pollution and the city’s urban planning. With the need for bigger roads being made known, footpaths are becoming smaller and Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran says the solution lies in our hands.

Sankaran was voted Bengaluru’s first Bicycle Mayor from among 19 applicants, in 2018. An honorary two-year position, part of a global programme envisioned by Amsterdam-based NGO ByCS, the Bicycle Mayor programme aims to ensure that 50% of the transport in cities is made up of bicycles by 2030.

“There are mainly two reasons to get on a cycle. The health factor, where you are doing your bit to stay healthy and active. And of course, there is the bigger picture of global climate change and pollution. It is time we start caring about Bengaluru and its future. We must look at cities like Amsterdam and take inspiration, where a majority of people have given up cars and motorbikes for bicycles,” Sankaran says.

Do it like the Dutch

The Netherlands is dubbed the bicycle capital of the world, with upwards of 20 million bicycles for a population of 17 million. Yes, you read that right. This means that there are more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are people! Despite being a recreational activity in almost every other part of the world, cycling is considered a main mode of transportation in The Netherlands.

Over 400 kilometres of cycle paths trail through Amsterdam, its periphery and suburbs, allowing cyclists to quickly commute between many neighbourhoods. In the 1990s, cycling had surpassed driving in Amsterdam and the city continued to develop with cyclists’ needs in mind, bringing about its current urban design. Today, 40% of all journeys in Amsterdam are made on bicycles and its network continues to expand. Some food for thought?

How you can make a difference

“Health is a selfish need. If you are on your bicycle from 6-8 am every morning, but then take your car or bike to work, it doesn’t serve the bigger purpose of avoiding pollution. You have to make sure that over the course of your week, you are making every trip you can, on your cycle. That’s when you will see a difference,” says Sankaran.

The opportunities to cycle are endless and so are the reasons to get more people on one. Many companies offer free parking to employees who commute on the bicycle to work, while those who come by cars or bikes have to pay a substantial amount. Some companies even allow parking right outside the office gates, to extend the convenience.

There are many cycling groups across the city that do several rides all over Bengaluru. Crankmeister, Bums on the Saddle, Cadence 90, Pro Cycles, Handlebars are groups that individually cater to the needs of the bicycle and to those of the rider. cycleto.work is a website that was set up to track the difference made by cyclists from 200 different companies. Fifty-five thousand people are tracked globally and over 96% of these are from Bengaluru. This information will prove to be vital when it comes to planning the city and making it more bicycle friendly in the future.

The alternatives

If cycling isn’t an option, there are always electric vehicles that allow you to commute faster, while keeping the environment clean. These vehicles have a range of over 120km that will allow you to commute within the city limits without having to pay for fuel.

Better yet, there are electric bicycles that give you the option of pedalling or using electricity to throttle. With portable batteries that can be charged anywhere, these serve the dual role of being your fitness workout or your commute to work.

Bengaluru, with all its traffic woes, has a dedicated corridor for cyclists on every footpath, and you might just save the minutes on your way to work!