Mumbaikars might cycle to work on Bike to Work Day

Apr 27, 2014, 10:12 IST | Shashank Rao

Hundreds of executives are expected to abandon their cars and motorbikes and opt for the humble cycle on Bike to Work Day. Although the actual date for the day is May 18, the event will be held in Mumbai on May 24 because of the elections. The action will unfold on the Western Express Highway

Imagine driving on the crowded Western Express Highway one morning, and suddenly seeing hundreds of corporate executives in formals, cycling past you on their way to work, as you honk, curse and crawl on the busy road.

Maximum City seems to be finally taking a cue from San Francisco, Seoul and several other cities where specific cycling tracks exist so that those keen not to pollute the city or simply stay fit, can cycle to their next destination. Come May 24 and a group of determined cycle enthusiasts are confident of getting more than a hundred executives who work in and around the Bandra-Kurla Complex, to cycle to work for at least one day.

The organisers believe that the event will make people realise that cycling not only reduces pollution, but is also a great way to keep fit
The organisers believe that the event will make people realise that cycling not only reduces pollution, but is also a great way to keep fit 

The event: a first-of-its-kind initiative to show citizens that cycling to work instead of driving the car not only reduces pollution but may end up saving time apart from being a great fitness tool.

The cycling drive will take place on the Western Express Highway (WEH) from Kandivli to BKC, say the organisers. “We have got in touch with several offices at BKC and spoken to the top executives as well as anyone who is a cycling enthusiast, to create awareness about the event,” Firoza Suresh, one of the organisers, told sunday mid-day. Executives of at least 18 offices spread across BKC have already pledged support to the event.

The cycle-to-work event will kick off at 7.30 am on May 24 and end by 9.30 am, a time when executives are expected to report to work anyway. Another organiser who spoke to smd said many of the participating executives are expected to start from Kandivli, Andheri and Vile Parle and cycle till BKC.

Experts hail initiative
Transport experts smd spoke to said, there are more than 45,000 vehicles plying on the Borivli-Bandra stretch during peak hours. “Each car carries not more than two people on an average. Cycling should be promoted as an alternative, less polluting means of travel for shorter distances, where it is safe to cycle,” said A Shenoy, transport expert and member Mumbai Vikas Samiti.

Advertising professional Shivam Agnihotri, 24, feels cycling energises you and keeps you fit. Piyush Shah, 40, a marketing executive who often cycles in BKC says, “It is easier to cycle when there is traffic. It is just a perception that cycling is stressful. Rather, people consume more liquids while cycling, which is good for health.”

Several cities such as Seoul, Singapore, London, Paris and San Francisco have dedicated cycling lanes and cycle stands specifically meant for office goers and students to park their vehicles. However, similar initiatives have so far failed to take off in Mumbai. A cycle track that was laid in BKC in the hope that new-age office goers would cycle to work, is today used more to park cars or to simply dump garbage.

“This is a good initiative. Cycling to work is ideal for shorter distances of say two to three kilometres from one’s home,” said Rishi Aggrawal, another transport expert and a member of Observer Research Foundation.

Their fears are not unfounded as on the WEH, vehicles travel at speeds of 50 kmph on an average. And other connecting roads such as Link Road and Swami Vivekanand Road are simply not wide enough to accommodate cars, buses and bicycles.

Wheeling away 
>> The group will train people to cycle a few days before the event
>> Also, they are ready to alter the distance, say from Andheri to BKC, if people feel that cycling from Kandivli will be difficult
>> At least a 100 people are expected to participate
>> The event will be held from 7.30 am to 9.30 am

For a cause
According to American Science Journal no other means of transport comes close to the efficiency of a bicycle, whose efficiency level varies between 84-99 per cent.

Previous initiatives in Mumbai:
2012: ‘Cycle-to-Work’ (C2W)’ was introduced in 2012 with a first-of-its-kind ‘Cycle-to-Work Flash Mob’ on May 19 outside Bandra Railway Station. This effort was limited to Bandra as this was the first time a cycle flash mob was organised in India.

2013: On May 18 a group of people organised a special cycle rally from BKC to Carter Road in Bandra. The city’s green crusaders and the ‘Dabbawalas’ also joined urban cyclists with helmets to promote the cause.

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