The Rs 7.5 petrol hike has left many motorists in the city rattled, but apart from those using public transportation, a few others consider themselves lucky.
With almost 21 lakh motorised vehicles, including cars and two-wheelers, approximately 1.5 lakh Puneites are happy to be hooked on pedal power.
“The average distance to schools, offices, colleges and other places in the city is no more than 10 kilometres. The distance can easily be covered by bicycle,” said Jugal Rathi, member of Cycle Pratishthan.
At the end of 2005, Rathi gave up using motorised vehicles and has only been using bicycles to get around.
He has pedalled more than 60,000 kilometres in the past 10 years and has cycled to several places including Leh, Srinagar, Khardungla, the highest motorable road in the world (525 km), Chennai–Kanyakumari (1,100 km) and Narmada Parikrama (2,750 km) in 27 days.
“The fuel hike will encourage the use of cycles. With the highest ever petrol hike, it’s high time citizens take to cycles. The government should aggressively promote use of cycles by providing supporting environment and infrastructure. It will help to reduce traffic burden of the city,” Rathi said.
Dr Shirish Patwardha, who uses a bicycle said that cycling has become a part of his lifestyle.
“I am using a cycle since 1995 and regularly cycle to the clinic or everywhere else. It gives me immense pleasure and is now part of my lifestyle. From the fitness and health point of view, cycling is useful and I observed that it also reduces mental stress,” Patwardha said.
Besides students and labour class, many working professionals are opting for cycles. Ulhas Joshi, owner of Life Cycle Mall said, “We observed that demand for imported cycles is increasing for the past few months. There are many specialised cycles in the market, which are attracting the youth of the IT industry.”
Joshi, who is also India head of Britain-based Euro Company Ltd, has been using cycles for the past six years.
“When I heard about the fuel hike, I was not shocked. Many of my friends called and said that they were now going to use cycles,” Joshi said.
Ali Daruwala of Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association said, “After the hike, we have not observed any difference in the demand. However, demand was very high today because there was shortage of petrol for the past two days.”
Pedal power to all
Ulhas Joshi has formed ‘Lifecycle’ to encourage cycling activities. Every third Sunday of the month, members gather and cycle to places like Sinhagad, Panshet and Theur among other places near the city. Lifecycle has over 3,000 members from various professions and age groups, and entry is open to all and is free.
Car-pooling trend on rise in IT sector
Car-pooling is picking up steam in the IT sector and employees owning cars put up a notice inviting those interested in joining a car pool. The notice specifies personal route details from home to office and other employees living along the route can join in. Harshal Ukhande of Tata Consultancy Services said, “Almost everyday you can see notices for different routes.”