New Delhi: Spreading awareness for an alternative mode of transport and a pollution-free environment, a bunch of cycling enthusiasts are waging a battle for cycle-friendly lanes in the city.
"People of Delhi are waking up to the idea of using bicycles as an alternative mode of transport for short-distance trips. They are rediscovering the passion of exploring unknown lanes via bicycles and trying to reduce their carbon footprints," says Nalin Sinha, the founder of Delhi Cycling Club.
"But the absence of safe cycle-friendly lanes in the city continues to be a major hindrance in the endeavour. It is high time the government takes it up as its priority. As per our estimates, less than 1 per cent of the city transport budget is required for building such lanes on arterial roads," he said.
Delhi Cycling Club, one of the numerous cycling clubs that have sprung up in the city, offers group rides and 'climate rides' for a distance of 10-40 kilometres.
"We are an organisation with 1,200 members divided into various sub-groups. We organise weekly rides for our members in various parts of the city. We are currently into the fifth edition of our 'Climate ride', wherein we invite environmentalists, citizens, policy makers and other stakeholders for creating climate awareness followed by signing a pledge," Sinha told PTI.
For a city known for poor pedestrian care, the task of inspiring cycling can be a tough nut to crack. But the clubs beg to differ.
"The mindset of the people towards climate conservation has changed manifold. The only thing that is pulling them back is the absence of a proper mechanism. They are not aware of the right platforms," says Jack Leenaars, founder-director of DelhiByCycle.
Leenaars, a former journalist, had quit his career in media and started DelhiByCycle in 2009. The company today designs cycling routes for people in the city, especially for the tourists.
"Many tourists have a cycling culture back home. They are keen on exploring a new city by cycling, rather than being driven around. We design cycling routes for them, keeping in mind factors of safety and the scope for experiencing local life. We usually choose unexplored places to give a unique and rich experience to the riders," Leenaars says.
"The bad roads of the city and the scant respect shown to the cyclists, can sometimes create troubles, so we always send a local guide with the cycling team," he adds.
Apart from providing a great cycling experience, people feel that such clubs are also helping people to distress and bringing them close to the nature.
"People have different reasons to pick up a bicycle. For some it may be a way to de-stress, for others it could be about being economical or environment-friendly. For me, cycling means leading a healthy life," says Rahul Sharma, a city-based finance consultant, who is a regular at such clubs.