Waking up before the crack of dawn the cycling enthusiasts often welcome the rays of the sun on the city streets. “We plan our bicycle trips during the early morning hours since the traffic hits the road after that and it gets very difficult and unsafe,” says Gaurav Wadhwa, founder, Delhi Cyclists. So when the news of a new cycling track coming up in Chanakyapuri’s Nehru Park was reported recently, cyclists in the city couldn’t hold themselves back from saying: “Just one track in one park is not enough.”
Challenge is to find new route
“We planned a 30 to 40km long ride for June 3, to spread awareness on how cycling is a feasible travel option for the city residents and also a positive choice keeping in mind the need to safeguard the environment,” says Aman Puri, founder of the Noida Cycling Group. The concern, however, is to find new and safe options within Noida, where the group can cycle without worry. “Noida currently has a designated cycling track only in the Noida Stadium, which is also not too accessible. Hence the residents opt to travel all the way to Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram. We ride with our group twice every month, and we could have increased the number of our meet-ups had there been enough tracks in the nearby localities. But the challenge is to find a safe route while exploring newer places because there are hardly any options,” adds Puri.
Riders and their safety
“We enjoy cycling in Lutyens’ Delhi because people tend to drive more cautiously there,” says Mohit Handa, co-founder of cycling group Delhi Gear Shifters. “If all other vehicles ride while following the traffic rules, then cyclists don’t have to worry too much about their lives while fulfilling their passion for pedalling… The new cycling track at Nehru Park might just get crowded as both the new cyclists as well as old ones would want to try out the single track that is 2.7km long. Also, experienced riders prefer tracks that are at least 50 to 100kms long, and would love to explore Delhi’s scenic roads but it’s certainly not to do, sometimes even in broad daylight.”
For some people in the city, cycling is not just a hobby but a need to commute daily. Sarika Panda Bhatt, bicycle mayor of Gurugram, says, “The construction of a cycling track is a step in the right direction, but not a solution. One should keep in mind not only those only cycle for leisure but also those who travel ride distances earn a livelihood. An improved road design with dedicated bicycle lanes, bike-friendly intersections, and clear signages that people are enforced to follow is the only significant solution to take care cyclists’ lives on road. That’s the concern that we surely lack! ”
Pedal for Earth’s sake
Members of Delhi Cyclists rode on June 3, to spread awareness about the growing climate change. “We aim to promote the slogan of ‘Go Green! Save the Planet!’,” says Wadhwa, adding, “Whether it rains or stays sunny, we would still ride on the day, to show the world that we have to bear the repercussions of our actions. The sudden switch in weather from sunny to rainy is certainly due to our ungoverned ways of living. In the long run, it’s only the choice of environmental-friendly travel options such as cycles that will play a crucial role in reducing pollution in our environment.”
How can cyclists be responsible for their safety?
“Cyclists need to focus on using only the dedicated tracks,” says Dalip Singh Sabharwal, bicycle mayor of Delhi, adding, “If we don’t do so, then these paths usually get encroached. Across the city there are several examples of cycling tracks getting covered by street side businesses and even shops. For instance, the longest cycling stretch in NCR is on the MG Road, which has all shops on the place where cyclists should have been… Even those cycling tracks that are functional within the city, are more or less good for only selfies! The reason being they are just a few hundred metres long. So instead of making them fancy, we need to try and make them usable. Delhi has some wide roads that can easily be used to make cycling tracks.”
Stretch, pedal on these tracks in NCR:
5km: Bikaner House to Jor Bagh Metro Station along Lodhi Garden
2.5km: From MG Road to Ghitorni
800m: Sri Aurobindo Marg; from IIT Delhi flyover to Aurobindo Place Market
600m: From Shanti Van Parking Area to Rajghat on Ring Road
Author tweets @maisha_scribbles