The other day, I was riding my motorbike a little faster as I was in a hurry to reach somewhere for voice-over work.
All of a sudden I had to apply the brakes a little harder than usual-A cyclist came in my way. He was trying to take a right turn while I had to stay on the left-hand side.
Frankly speaking, I was not expecting him. I had almost forgotten that there are still people who ride bicycles.
It just didn’t occur to me.
This incident reminded me of the cyclist inside me. I heard him talking; he wanted to share his concerns and worries. I said, “Please go ahead!” He spoke – for the first time. I thought you might also like to read what he shared with me. So here it is.
The Cyclist is a Disappearing Race. Here’s Why
I am a cyclist. I had been riding the bicycle since I could remember.”
“When I reached the 11th standard, I started riding it to help me commute between home and school. It not only helped me cover the distance but also kept me fit.”
“I never felt the need of going to a gym or even running or jogging. I used to cycle around 15 kilometres a day. The joy of riding a bicycle was something incomparable. Oh! Those days were full of excitement.”
“But now, I am nothing but a hurdle in the way of others on the road. I don’t matter. They don’t even consider me, though I ride on the same roads.”
“They rarely pay attention when I need to take a turn. Only I know how I manage. And when I do get in others’ way, they look at me with anger and disgust in their eyes.”
“They don’t say anything, but I can read what’s on their mind.”
“They want to shout at me and say ‘O bleep, get out of my way’ you backward. You piece of bleep.”
“What can I do? I feel helpless, neglected and left out. It’s so hard being a cyclist in a city, where almost everyone is riding a bike or driving a car. I am lagging behind because my poor bicycle cannot run as fast as bikes and cars.”
“This so-called ‘fast’ (I feel the right word is ‘mad’) life has snatched away the pleasure of cycling from me. I do have a bicycle but rarely get a chance to ride it because there are no roads to ride it on. No matter where you go, you can rarely find a dedicated track for cyclists. Nope! There’s none, and even if it’s there, you cannot use it because they are not in good shape.”
Encroached “Cycle Only Tracks” Are Making the Situation Worse
“Take, for example, the ‘Cycle only’ track stretched between Uttam Nagar bus terminal and Sagarpur in West Delhi. It began in 1997, I guess. It was a great initiative but died out pretty soon.”
“Now, people have encroached it – you can spot cows there (and dung too). Buses, tempos, and trucks are parked there; there are garbage bins and waste lying in many places.”
“It’s dirty and inaccessible.”
“It must have taken great time and a tremendous amount of money (the money of taxpayers of the country) and was like a dream come true, but it remained a dream.” (Original picture below).
“I remember being stopped by a policeman while riding my scooter on it. I was not aware of the fact that it was a ‘cycle only’ track. He scolded me “It’s a cycle only track, and you are not supposed to be here.”
“I got a little-pissed off though but realised later that it was a good start. And today when I look at it, I can’t help, but sigh.”
“The government says it is serious about making the roads less congested and pollution free.”
“It can be done efficiently by promoting cycling as a mode of transport.”
“But nobody seems to care.”
“Many countries abroad are promoting the bicycle as an Eco-friendly, easy on pocket and healthy mode of transport.”
“I wonder when such thing is going to happen in India.”
“Not only it has become quite difficult to ride a bicycle but insulting too. You have to bear a lot if you want to keep riding your Eco-friendly vehicle. When I started noticing that people around me have no regards or concern for me as a cyclist, I decided to ‘upgrade’ to a bike.”
“What else could I do? I bought one bike, added one more vehicle to the convoy on the road and have been contributing to making traffic jams, congestion, stress and road rage a daily affair since then.”
Will I Be Able to Ride My Bicycle Again?
“I do want to ride my bicycle and help decrease the pollution and traffic but where are the tracks?
“I can’t afford to get hit by a ‘fast moving vehicle.’ It seems that my race – ‘The Race of Cyclists’ is going to die out pretty soon.”
“The cyclist inside me have disappeared from the road, and more and more people like me are fading daily.”
“Are you listening?”