Why don’t we have a Cycling/Biking Culture in Indian cities?

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If Amsterdam, such a big city, can develop a thriving cycling/biking culture, why can’t we do it in Chennai or Bangalore?

I am sure all of us remember the first time we got a new cycle and our fond cycle rides, when we were young. I remember both my BSA SLR and Hercules MTB, quite well. These two were my primary mode of transportation for well over 8 years.

After I started using the scooter/bike, I never went back to my cycle. My bike was faster and it could cover an enormous distance with minimum strain. That was critical for my job and the other activities I was involved in. Chennai/Bangalore/Coimbatore are big cities and it was impossible to use a cycle to go around the city quickly (if required), especially on work.

But there were many instances when I could have used a cycle, instead of the bike. For example, when I went to shopping in an around my area, I could have taken the cycle. When I went to the park, I could have taken the cycle. Instead of exercising by walking for half an hour daily, I could have cycled for half an hour (not sure which one is better for health/fitness).

These days, I don’t use my bike much and use it just once in a week. Can I travel using a cycle to M.G.Road Nungambakkam (10 KM) or Tambaram (30 KM), if required?

Frankly, I think I can. Especially, if I ride the cycle during off-peak hours. The roads are somewhat good nowadays, at least good enough to ride a cycle without falling down 🙂 In fact, I would look forward to go to Tambaram from my place, even though it is longer, because there is a (relatively) broad and free bypass road that I can take and stay away from city traffic, for the entire length. I think, with some practice and getting used to it (once again), I will be able to ride long-distance.

But riding a cycle inside the city will be difficult, because of the traffic and safety concerns. Time should not be an issue, as long as I plan properly.

There are some great cycles available in shops these days – I happened to check some, during an accidental visit to one BSA shop. The new electric bikes/e-cycles are also there, but once I start using automatic electric-propulsion systems, I may not use the pedals.

I may need to buy a hand-pump and learn to use the puncture kit, for stress-free riding. Also, there are a couple of cycle shops near my house for servicing/maintenance – good.

I would very much want a separate biking lane in our cities, but all of us know it is a Utopian dream. But, if enough citizens start using cycles, at least for short trips, we might be able to make the Government/Corporation, rethink its priorities. Just saying…

I feel connecting back with my cycle may be a good idea. What do you think?

Destination Infinity

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20 Replies to “Why don’t we have a Cycling/Biking Culture in Indian cities?”

  1. In US nothing is in walking or cycling distance.People use cars.But each house has three or four cycles for the couple and their children.They cycle around the community purely as an exercise.But then roads are busy with traffic and narrow with parking of cars.Cycle ways should be provided except in main roads for greater use but then the road space would get restricted further.People buy stationary cycles for exercise.Cycles like typewriters/teleprinters/post cards are also on their way out.

    1. Even if cycle is not going to be the primary means of traveling, people could keep one at home and consider traveling in it, if not for reducing the traffic jam, but at least to improve their own fitness/health?

      I wonder why it doesn’t happen in India (I am no different).

      Destination Infinity

  2. We had my sons’ cycles at home until a few years ago…they were not used for a long time and so we gave them off for free. I still remember them using it until they finished school. I don’t think they will ever think of using it here.

    The son who is in the US still uses his cycle most of the time to go here and there inside his college campus. He is happy about it.

    It is not easy to use it here in our traffic, D.I.

    1. It’s good to know that cycling is popular in the US too. And yes, it is almost impossible to use it in our peak traffic. But, why not use it to go to nearby areas, shopping, etc? And travel on main roads during the off-peak hours?

      Regular cycling is one good way to avoid becoming obese.

      Destination Infinity

  3. San Francisco is a very small city. It has a land area of about 47 square miles. That is approximately 7 miles by 7 miles. For messenger/delivery service within the city, only bicycles are used. There are several bicycle messenger service companies.

    I know compared to San Francisco, Chennai is a huge city. Still, they could do bicycle messenger service within certain areas where there are a lot of office locations

    1. I used to find a lot of adults on bicycles when I was young. Now I don’t see even that! Somehow, this bicycle-is-only-for-the-poor concept has caught up with masses. Only if they suffer health ailments due to all the comforts, they will realize how crucial cycling is.

      Destination Infinity

  4. here again problem is implementation of law
    you can build walking paths , next day they will be occupied by sellers and same with cycling tracks, occupied by sellers and everyone

    1. In an over-populated country like India, it is difficult to blame anyone in-particular for the congestion. And then there is the culture thing…

      Destination Infinity

    1. Alcohol is known to cause impotence. Still, look at how many people consume it. I think rumours are just rumours. Cycling is a very good exercise.

      Destination Infinity

  5. The main problem is the huge population and the insufficient Infrastructure here for two wheelers, let alone cycles. Perhaps this can be tried only outside the city, for safety reasons.

      1. I agree with Ashwini. Even with two wheelers, it is difficult to ride on city roads. It will be tough to ride a cycle with the amount of traffic on the roads. Having separate bicycle lanes would help though.

        1. Having separate bicycle lanes will help, but in India even if it is created, it will be difficult to enforce lanes. The traffic is too hap-hazard. Perhaps we’ll have to wait until the population matures a bit. We can’t do much about the over-population, anyway.

          Destination Infinity

  6. Phoenix Mall created a furore when they said no-parking for cycles!

    Thinking of a Chennai to Pondy trip by bicycle – what say Rajesh 🙂 ?

    Cheers,
    Mahesh

    1. I am not sure if I can go from here to Tambaram, and you want to go to Pondy?? Who knows, I might make that one too sometime in the future 🙂

      Destination Infinity

  7. Cycling as a hobby is catching up! We have 4 friends in the different parts of the country who are associated with cycling clubs and cycle daily or do cycling expeditions in hills/ Goa etc. But that’s for health and hobby… a passion. Cycling for work or for short distances is yet to catch up!

    1. Good to know about the cycling for hobby/passion thing catching up in India. Though, I am not aware of many people doing that here. One of my friends bought a cycle for that purpose, but he abandoned it in three weeks! That is one reason why I am wary of buying one.

      Destination Infinity

  8. I think it’s a great idea…….if I had a chance I’d definitely go for it. My fondest memories are of cycling to school[2kms] and even college which was 10 kms away.
    In Dubai the muncipality have finally woken up and started constructing cycling tracks but its going to be ready only in 2016 I think ;-/. We cannot cycle on normal roads because the speed limit is 60 – 120kms[depending on rd] & another reason is tht it is very HOT for around 8-9 months in a year.

    1. You cycled daily to reach your college that was 10 KM away? That’s some achievement alright. The challenge is to do that now, at this age. For both of us!

      Destination Infinity

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