As cities prepare to re-open for work and business, socio-physical distancing will be a pre-requisite in the post pandemic life. The current modal choices for reaching workplace involves risks as one would need to travel safely. Thus, resuming normal life will be tough as political leaders are far from ready with a solution to tackle traffic jams, packed transit vehicles, and move everyone safely.
To encourage walking and cycling, the global cities have announced comprehensive plans with action points such as widening of sidewalks, protected cycle lanes and limiting crowd in mass transits. Several projects have received government backing with adequate funding, for a futuristic plan with technology upgrades. The European Union is aligned to EU Green Deal to achieve its commitments towards transforming EU into a low carbon region.
In this broader scheme of things, India has a different challenge altogether; economic disparity, over population, mass migration of labor, regional political divide and multiple stakeholders to align on a common agenda. We are a system of ongoing complex puzzle difficult to resolve.
It can’t be denied that India’s transportation policy is in deep mess – excess load on rail networks, expansive metro projects that are ongoing and incomplete, assorted quality of experience in bus transport. And to add to this, we have a big ambition to replace our fuel based fleet with EV vehicles.
Phew! And just about when the average individual helplessly strives to find a way out to earn his livelihood, the country’s prime minister nudges him with another mantra ‘atma nirbhar – to become self-reliant’.
A generic idea left on an individual to interpret in his own way. I believe the common man has always been self-reliant and finds his own way to sustain and survive. (I am not against the PM’s speech, his views and and his leadership, this is a non-political blog and I request the readers to keep aside political views).
Many challenges, but time and again using simple remedies, the common man has rescued himself through ‘Jugaad’ – the google explanation to this Indian slang ‘Jugaad is a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way’.
In this Covid period, we read many stories of migrant families who crossed borders on foot and of distressed people who cycled unsupported for hundreds of kilometres to reach their towns and villages. The poor men and women didn’t rely on confused and indecisive authorities to react. Determined to reach home, they took charge of the situation and somehow managed their way out. And don’t forget they had limited resources – money, food, water. Sadly, quite a few lost their life’s in rail and road accidents.
If I could draw three takeaways from the migrant story:
- Self belief
Evidently, all of us have these characteristics including you and me. Circumstances unmute these traits and become a force that dares us to push ourselves beyond limits and attempt something we haven’t tried in the past.
Resolving the travel puzzle in this testing times largely depends on you. It requires you to give up your comforts and do what you haven’t done before. I understand you would be nervous to sit on a cycle after ages and imagine yourself negotiating on busy junctions and traffic lights. But, be assured it’s doable. Only you can convince yourself. Have faith, show a strong attitude and adapt to the situation.
Why should you take up cycling?
- Corona wants you to …
- You don’t like pollution
- Fitness is your mantra
- You crave for new experiences
- You are inspired
- You want to be the change
What will be the result?
Postive. Postive. Positive. The outcome of your effort will be a big boost to your motivation, health and environment. Even if you cover shorter distances 5-8 kms to reach your workplace or simply pedal 2 kms to manage your errands, you are arrived in life. You have earned a ‘Sustainability’ tag and have a renewed approach to your routine. You have low dependence on the system and simultaneously taken control of the situation, with added benefits of physical and mental well being.
So you have a Problem and a low cost Solution.
Let Cycling be the new normal.
Switch On With Cycling!
If you are new to cycling or even riding after a gap, I recommend you to read
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai