Nihar Thakkar, 17-year-old home schooler and a resident of Bengaluru, a metropolis notorious for traffic snarls, is an avid fan of public transport, cycling and walking. She is working to create an app that increases the modal share of cycling in neighbourhoods by creating safe infrastructure and community engagement programmes.
“As someone who is under 18, I can't drive. My bicycle gives me the independence and freedom I want. I have discovered a lot more places in the last few months – it feels I know the city a lot better now. Cycles have no emission and they are super quiet. I think we all should cycle a lot more,” the ebullient teenager says.
Like her, there are many who love the bicycle. Hero Cycles has unveiled an initiative to celebrate these ‘Heroes of Cycling ’as a part of its ongoing ‘Road pe Dikhegi, Tabhi Chalegi’ campaign that has helped generate discussion about the need for people to actively take up cycling and demand cycle-friendly infrastructure in cities.
In its fourth year, World Bicycle Day, celebrated on June 3, draws attention to the benefits of using the bicycle — a simple, affordable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation. #HeroesOfCycling brings together 30 inspirational stories in 30 days and is available on Hero Cycles’ social media handles.
Passion, fitness or pure fun
From a pre-teen girl in (Gurgaon) to a teenage home schooler in Bengaluru, from a 21-year-old professional mountain biker in Shimla to a woman who cycling in 2015 and pedalled for 300 km in one day, the multi-platform social media initiative shares the stories of common people from all over India who pedal to work or have pursued cycling as a profession, cycle to stay fit or just for fun.
11-year-old Avira Bhatt got her love for cycles from her parents and took the cycling community by storm after covering 40 kms before she turned 10. Explaining her special connection with cycling and her wish to contribute as much as she can to make cycling great again and make our cities friendly to cycling and cyclists, Avira says, “Ever since I was young, I have loved cycling – everything about cycling has been such a pleasure. As I grew older, I realised its physical and mental health benefits, but as the years have gone by, people have gone to motorised transport more even though they know how harmful it is for the environment. Cycling can truly change your life…I urge you, start cycling today and start cycling now.”
Mountain bikers Lakshay Jangid from (Jaipur), a pro MTB stunt rider and world champion and Akshit Gaur from Shimla, the U19 National MTB Champion, are ‘emotionally attached’ to cycling which they deem as ‘a way of life’. They have urged people to pedal for daily commute to work or buying groceries as cycling keeps one healthy and happy.
Ritu Mehta of (Ludhiana), who started cycling in 2015 and cycled to the Wagah border and Golden temple to complete162 km in only 9.5 hours in 2021, concurs, “Thanks to cycling, I got to explore those parts of Punjab where one can’t reach by car. Cycling is a source of happiness; it is a form of meditation that keeps me grounded. It has become a major part of my life and I encourage you to make it an essential part of your schedule!”
Rohit Gothi, CEO, Hero Cycles Ltd, said: “Many living in our motor-obsessed cities yearn to take up bicycling for fitness, for reducing their carbon footprint or simply for its experience. Unfortunately, lack of conducive infrastructure and cyclists on roads makes it appear as a risky exercise. Our campaign aims to meet the twin purpose of urging more people to take up cycling while demanding government attention to the need for creating bicycle-friendly cities. At a time when COVID-19 has made the use of public transport unsafe for many......the campaign aims to provide a platform to them to voice their demands and concerns," he said.
The campaign seeks to call for bicycle-friendly cities and attract more Indians towards cycling. “Cycling helps us strike the balance. Governments and urban planners must work to create dedicated lanes on roads, in municipal parks as well as in residential areas. Increasing usage of cycles will not only help people travel safely during the pandemic, it will also have remarkable environmental and health benefits. It will also help slow down the proliferation of personal cars which is environmentally unsustainable,” Gothi added.
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