Mumbai for kids: Pushpa Narsee Park (Outdoors) in Juhu
The Pushpa Narsee Park (PNP) in Juhu, also known as the Cycling Park, is the only dedicated cycling space for children that I know in Mumbai. Most routes and roadways are not cycling-friendly; for children...
Kids enjoy zipping down the bicycle path in the park. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Cycling takes me back to my childhood where we would beg for hours with the only child in our building who owned a BSA to let us take a ride. It meant freedom, sheer breeze-rush on hot summer days, the exultation of standing and biking, and taking smaller brats double.
Cycling meant happiness. Yet, until recently, both my kids didn't know (and 'we don't even want to', they claimed) to cycle. So, this Diwali vacation was project let's-learn- to-cycle and now that the task had been mastered, it was the other — more daunting — task of finding a place where kids can cycle freely in Mumbai and in peace.
The Pushpa Narsee Park (PNP) in Juhu, also known as the Cycling Park, is the only dedicated cycling space for children that I know in Mumbai. Most routes and roadways are not cycling-friendly; for children, the options shrink further if you don't count the apartment lobbies or society compounds.
The PNP allows you to either bring your own cycle or hire one, and offers a safe space for children and accompanying adults to cycle freely. The approximately one-km cycling pathway has a gently elevated bridge, which offers that tiny thrill to pedal up a slope and then breeze down it. At the entrance is the parking area and you can choose a bike according to your age and size/height, take a token and wheel away.
If you cycle for more than an hour, you pay more. While there are no cycles with support wheels for the little ones, you can always bring your own. And if you have a good bike, then it's definitely worth lugging it in your vehicle and cycling here to your heart's content. We came here on two consecutive days and tried both the options: on day one, we hauled my son Ammol's cycle in an auto.
On day two, we reached PNP cycle-less, and stood in a line (at 5 pm, when the gate was about to open, there was a long queue because the first in line obviously gets to choose from the best of the park's bank of 50 cycles). Both have pros and cons. But if bringing along your cycle is feasible, it's the best option.
The park inside is pretty with a picturesque, giant raintree in the centre, making you want to instantly sit under it with a picnic basket. And if kids are tired of cycling, they can do the regular swing-slide routine in the park, too. I see parents happily cycling along, so this is a great place for some parent-child time. And it tells me what I can do next weekend, too.
Ideal if you can bring your own cycle. If you are picking one from the park, try a couple before you swing off on one. A few bikes here looked unsafe in terms of brakes and the rust-factor.
Where: 15 Vaikunthlal Mehta Road, Airport Area, Juhu
Best for: Girls and boys of all ages, especially from 5 years upwards
How to reach: Vile Parle Station (West) is the closest by train. By road, take a right from the signal ahead of Juhu Marriott and go straight.
Timings: 5 am to 9 am; 5 pm to 10 pm, all days of the week Budget: 5 to 12 year olds and senior citizens: Rs 2; adults: Rs 5. For your own cycle: '10 and hiring a cycle for an hour:Rs 25. For kids below Rs 5, no charge.
Food: Not available, but many restaurants stand outside Water: Yes
Rest Room facilities: Yes
Where else to go: Juhu beach
Parent Poll: Finally a place for kids to bike. Come in by 5 pm if you have to hire a bicycle. Rating: JJJ
Kids' Poll: Wish I could choose a better bike.
What's Good: No chaos as the cycling is in one direction.
What's Not So Good: Need more and better maintained bikes.
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