300 commuters ditch cars to cycle to work in Mumbai

As part of a drive to urge Mumbaikars to pedal to work, cycling enthusiasts hit the streets yesterday to promote a cheaper and more eco-friendly mode of transport

After shielding her body with a reflective vest and fastening her helmet, 33-year-old Zohra Mutabanna mounted her bicycle and began pedalling to the Bandra-Kurla Complex last morning. A transport planner, who regularly commutes to office on her bicycle, Zohra was cycling yesterday as part of the event ‘cycle2work’, organised by NGO Smart Commute, to mark World Environment Day.

Also read: 270 Mumbaikars to cycle to BKC offices today to raise awareness

Noble pursuit: The purpose of the drive was to reduce the number of polluting vehicles on the road and help the environment by making people take up cycling
Noble pursuit: The purpose of the drive was to reduce the number of polluting vehicles on the road and help the environment by making people take up cycling

Nearly 300 other cycling enthusiasts from places as far away as Thane, Vashi, Ghatkopar, Chembur, Goregaon, Andheri and Worli, criss-crossed the city’s streets, making their way to their destination — Sofitel Hotel in BKC.

While some saw it as an opportunity to exercise and help the environment, the main purpose of the campaign was to encourage office-goers to ditch other means of private transport and cycle to work, thereby reducing vehicular congestion on the city’s streets which has reached alarming proportions.

Also read: Mumbaikars might cycle to work on Bike to Work Day

After most of the bikers wheeled in at 8 am, they were made to do stretching exercises by a fitness trainer to soothe their tired legs. Each cyclist was also handed out a pledge card. The cyclists said that their focus was on the journey and not the destination, and hence safety was their priority, not speed. Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman, Mumbai Transport Forum and Observer Research Foundation, said, “This is a great initiative taken by the club. This is the safest mode of travel. The government should support this initiative and make it a part of its transport policy.”

Firoza Suresh, one of the event organisers, said, “The bicycle is the most convenient travel option. It’s ideal for a 5-6 km commute to work. The city’s traffic is slow moving and a biker can reach his/her destination quicker by avoiding those time-consuming traffic jams. Safety, however, should be of utmost importance
and care must be taken by the biker to wear a helmet and reflective jacket.”

Cops make a point
Nearly 75 cyclists, who had gathered at the Police Headquarters in Worli, were joined by two traffic cops in their journey to BKC. Sanjay Jadhav, a traffic department official, said, “This drive may kindle interest among people and reduce the number of cars on the road.”

The event saw representation even from the older lot. 52-year-old Milind Pandit said, “I have been riding bicycles since childhood. The traffic in the city is increasing, so a bicycle is the best option to get to places that are close.”

Piyush Shah, 40, a marketing executive who often cycles to his office in BKC, said, “We have decided to conduct this campaign every month. The next one is scheduled for July 4. The initiative will promote the habit of cycling and help the environment.”

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