Analysing ancient tools, ornaments and human remains from a prehistoric rock shelter called ‘Riparo Bombrini’ in Liguria on the Italian Riviera, archaeologists at the Universite De Montreal and the University of Genoa conclude a very precious and sustainable thought thatThe Key to survival is Co-operation”. 

Climate change is not a new topic of discussion and it is been actively discussed from  many years. As per scientists, some forty thousand years ago the source of methane which triggered a rapid Global warming came from northern wetlands and not as many believed from ocean sediments. 

The difference between the past and the present climate change phenomenon is that at that time, increase in methane concentration was due to climate warming in turn generating a more substantial greenhouse effect. And in the present scenario, additional methane and carbon dioxide are artificially emitted into the atmosphere by human activities which are the main drivers of global warming.

According to archaeologists, our ancestors had an extensive social and trading network. This broad and extensive network helped them survive the climate changes – as if anything went wrong in their territory they would easily depend on people with whom they had built relationships. Thus they were more adaptive and resilient in worst of the situations.

And considering some of the challenges we are facing nowadays, may be the notion that ‘Cooperation’ is fundamental is something we can communicate as a critical lesson from our ancestral style of working.

Nowadays, global warming is a trending issue, and we are all worried as it is bound to change the future of the world how we live and impact generations to come. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report concluded that, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the warming which includes emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.”

With increase in population and also with an improved standard of living, the number of vehicles owned and used has surged across the globe. Thereby, causing pollution and congestion which has becoming major concern for the governments to tackle. Thankfully, even in modern times a ‘Bicycle’ provides a simple solution to the world’s most complicated problems – Congestion and Pollution.  

BYCS, an Amsterdam based social enterprise driven by the belief that bicycle transforms cities and cities transform the world prefers…

“Cooperation to Competition”

As a non profit organisation, they plan to work globally with businesses, governments and other non-profit entities to initiate and scale breakthrough ideas around cycling.

BYCS mission is 50by30: half of all city trips by bicycle by 2030

BYCS also runs programs that are built on deep insights of how to create a cycling future. They assist in  conceptualizing and help in supporting creative ideas and collaborate with like minded others to ensure that their ideas achieve maximum impact and finally scale them up by engaging and inspiring people around the world to act.

Among many of the initiatives, the “Bicycle Mayor and Leadership Program” is a global initiative to accelerate the progress of cycling in cities and help get another one billion people onto cycles.

The Bicycle Mayors are the face and voice of cycling in a city,  and the ones who listen to the local needs and identify solutions to their problems. BYCS recruits and supports these local leaders and enables them to develop and translate their ideas into action. It takes care of the online community and provides toolkits and templates for a seamless execution of campaigns, events and and helps activate as many touch points as possible.

Currently, India has over forty bicycle mayors, while the first four to be appointed are – 

  • Nikita Lalwani from Baroda, Gujarat – first Bicycle Mayor of India.
  • Arshel Akhter from Guwahati
  • Sathya Sankaran from Bangalore.
  • And myself Dr. Bhairavi Naik Joshi from Valsad, Gujarat. Post completion of my term, I am handling the honorary position of BYCS India CEO.

“We all are working towards bringing back the lost cycling culture in our country. We might have different approaches and strategies to counter the local situations, but increasing ridership remains at the epicentre of our core agenda. Together with BYCS, we have put several initiatives on a roll” – Dr. Bhairavi Naik Joshi.

Dr. Bhairavi Naik Joshi s spearheading the bicycle mayor leadership program in India.

As a Bicycle Mayor, my mission is to have an environmental-friendly bicycle town, thereby placing Valsad on the map of India. My cycling journey had begun as a recreational activity, but having personally experienced the benefits for myself and the surrounding environment, I felt I should create more awareness among the masses .

Global warming and Climate change are the two most important concerns for India and to the world. As India moves ahead with high economic growth, the city planners have adopted a car centric mobility design and the citizens have complimented them equally by taking increased number of car trips. And the number of car trips have also risen due to boom in car sales, easily available loans and high decibel advertising campaigns over the last decade. The resultant of this is that our cities are now facing the challenge of congestion, poor air quality, huge maintenance cost for setting up parking infrastructure and increasing demand for more space for building roads and highways.

So, all of this triggered me to promote cycling as a more efficient alternate and remedial measure for the cities facing ill health condition due to preference for private cars. I realized cycling is a simple answer to the complex problems we are facing and being a doctor myself, I have taken the task of improving cities health and bring it back to its optimum fitness level.

When I came across the Bicycle Mayor program, I felt my dream taking shape, as this could provide me with a platform to bring a revolution in my city. Regular cycling usage for transit so far has been a phenomenon in the developed cities. To execute my cycling advocacy goals in a small town like Valsad is a challenge as we do not have designated tracks and thus cycling can be pretty scary and dangerous. Therefore, my key concern is more towards ensuring safety for the cycling community and I am taking adequate measures for the them in this regard.

Explaining benefits of cycling.

Moreover, I have initiated a ‘School Contact Program’ for children to promote cycling. A couple of schools have already included cycling as an independent subject and a dedicated time slot is allotted in the Time-Table. I have been working closely with these school children and feel that they are our country’s asset. When they learn to cycle, they start exploring the world around them. Cycling at this age is very necessary for their emotional, mental, social and physical growth.

As we all are aware that there is high craze for two-wheelers in youngsters, hence I felt a cycle can surely entice the little kids. Cycling will work for their benefit as they take up this activity at an early age and be the future change agents. Habit building is the crux of this campaign and I foresee this project delivering great dividends in the long run.

Another challenge is to bring out more and more female riders on street. Women have always underestimated their strength and creativity when it comes to outdoor activities. They themselves are unaware of the wonders they can do. There are many of them who could not learn to cycle at their young age, so I rolled out a fully customized program called as ‘Learn to Cycle’. It is one of the most progressive projects I have undertaken and am confident that through this, I will be able to involve more females into cycling.


To conclude, along with the other bicycle mayors and BYCS team, I am following a multi-level approach to encourage greater people participation and bring them on board.

It’s now time that we turn our attention and not ignore this grave problem of rising temperatures in the best interest of our children and future generations. The present situation is a result of our past actions that leaves us in a state of caution, but the future can be controlled based on what we plan and execute now. So the moment to act is now.

“Change can’t happen if we work in isolation but a greater impact can be achieved when we stand united” – Bhairavi Naik Joshi.

As stated in the beginning of this article, we need to build cooperation and I invite you all to come forward and contribute towards the problem of climate change and help us in our noble endeavor. Join us in our fight by adopting cycling in your daily lives. 

Author: Dr. Bhairavi Naik Joshi is the Bicycle Mayor of Valsad, Gujarat. A Dentist by profession, mother of two kids and a cycling advocate. She has authored a book ‘Ozone Saviours’ .

*This article was published in January 2019 and is updated with latest information.

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