Go Cycle! And Do Your Bit…

Posted on May 13, 2010 in unEarthed

Soumya Venugopal:

It all began with the creation of wheel and when man invented bicycle he achieved the zenith of his attainments. Here was the machine of impeccable precision and balance for the convenience of man unlike the further inventions which were made for man’s convenience. The more he used it, the fitter his body became. For once here was the product of man’s intelligence that was entirely beneficial to those who used it and at the same time of no harm or irritation to others. A bicycle was indeed a curious vehicle which had its passenger as its engine. Most of us would unanimously agree that had there been no bicycle the progress would have come to a standstill. It was this humble bicycle which gave rise to the fancy Yamahas, the Pulsars and the Hayabusas.

Times have changed and so have we. We slowly made our transition from “ O zaraa ruk jaa” (old hindi song from the 1950’s on a bicycle) to “Zindagi ek safar hai suhaana” (the evergreen Rajesh Khanna song) to the very famous “Dhoom Dhoom” (no explanation required here I guess..). Life today is so fast paced that as W.H.Davies puts it “There is no time to stand and stare”. We pompously display our Fords, our Accents and our Innovas to the world and at the same time in the midst of an intellectual discussion on global warming come up with something like “ The air-pollution is slowly killing us”. What an irony!!! Things have become very funny these days. One can witness people going to the gyms in their four wheeler babies and sweat it out on the treadmills and the gymming cycles! Surely makes sense for people who do it, but I am sorry I fail to get the whole idea. Most people in India have come to regard car as the basic necessity. Families without car today are considered to be “poor”. Its hard to understand this love-affair with the car given the stress, the pollution, the accidents and the congestion it causes. Yes, it is often convenient in case of inclement weather but do the advantages of car travel outweigh the disadvantages which include the initial purchase and the running costs? Has the car now become an extension of the home rather than just a means of getting around? For a very small number of people car may be legitimately regarded as a necessity. However the purpose of the article is to urge the youth to rethink their attitude towards the transport and consider the role cycling has in reducing pollution, global warming and improving health. For safer streets, less congestion and reduced air pollution, the bicycle is poised to become an integral part of the urban transportation system. Putting bicycles to work could produce enormous savings like reduction in the noise and air pollution, better land use and lower health risks. Indians drive cars and taxis more than 2.5 trillion kilometers and even if 5 percent of those kilometers is shifted to bicycles then it can make a huge difference! Much of the urban travel is bike-size and if we could replace the bike for the short trips by the good old cycle it could definitely eliminate the short, air-polluting trips.

Cycling is good for your health and your pocket and the greater the number of people who decide to give up their four wheelers or not to own one in the first place, the safer will be the roads for the people using the bicycle. About 16 bicycles can be parked in the space required by one car and they occupy less space on roads, there by increasing the road efficiency and also reducing the wear and tear of the road. It’s quite surprising to note that the person sitting in the car is bound to inhale more exhaust pollutants than the person who is cycling in the same situation.

I am sure this is not the first time we are reading about cycling to reduce the pollution levels, but seldom things like this are taken seriously. I mean we can always get away with “Who has time???”. Its time we spare a thought about the environment around us. We all are experiencing a severe summer this year and going by the statistics there is a whopping 5 degree increase in the temperature as compared to the last year. With such an increase one could just imagine what would be the condition in coming five years. It’s high time we start caring about the environment seriously. Here are few things that can be done to ensure that more and more people get into cycling

1. Allowing the cyclists to use the bus lanes. Cars on the bus lanes should not be allowed.
2. Special lanes near the intersections should be made for the cyclists so that they are ahead of the cars and a special green signal should be given exclusively for the cyclists so as to ensure that they get through the intersections before the cars.
3. Local governments should set up a micro-credit program to buy bicycles for the people belonging to the low income group.
4. A bicycle program can be launched where one can take the bicycle for rent. This provides employment opportunities for many.

With increasing concerns about global warming and the growing numbers of people with diseases related to obesity and lack of exercise, does it not make sense to use a bicycle for getting around whenever possible?

Increasing bicycle use will be key to making the urban habitat, now home to nearly half of humanity, a far more livable space.

So all you lazy bones and environment enthusiasts GO CYCLE!!!

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