A number of cycling stories emerged in the last 2 months. Reports of cycle brands rejigging their factories to produce face mask and governments implementing pop-up cycle lanes.
Industry bodies and event companies reached out to fans through virtual cycling conferences while some independent cyclists took up indoor charity rides.
Cyclists around the world stepped forward to lend support to civil society.
Bicycle Network in India, appointed by BYCS, the Amsterdam based non-profit enterprise pitched in to aid their local communities during the outbreak.
Here’s a brief account of their acts of courage and kindness in alphabetical order.
Arshel Akther, Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati …
started a #FeedTheHungry crowd funding campaign to support the poor. Members from the cycling group ‘Pedal for Change’ coordinated with the administration, sought permissions and distributed raw food material to families residing in underprivileged areas.
Currently, Arshel and his cycle buddies are conducting facebook live sessions called ‘Pedal Talks’ where they take up new topics every week.
Besides cycling, Arshel writes columns for newspapers. In his latest article published in ‘The Assam Tribune’ titled ‘Wheels of Change’ he suggested a series of actions such as car free days, cycle parking facilities, incentives for cycling and temporary cycle ways.
Bhairavi Naik Joshi, Director and CEO at BYCS India Foundation …
hosted its 1st webinar ‘Pollution Population Pedalling’. Speakers represented BYCS Amsterdam, ITDP India, The Legislative Assembly of Majura in Gujarat with general public as participants.
The session focused on climate change, lifestyle behaviours, mobility patterns and ideas to change the mindset and push active travel.
Bhairavi is a practising Dentist, with multifaceted interests related to social issues and campaigns for waste management program. She closely works with authorities and educational institutes in her region.
In her latest project, Bhairavi launched an e-book comprising the best short stories and poems submitted by students through online engagement.
Firoza Suresh, Bicycle Mayor of Mumbai …
partnered with Mumbai cyclists and spearheaded the crowd funding campaign to raise funds for Covid-19 Relief. With donations, Lala Bhagwandas Trust is providing free packaged meals to migrant workers and destitute.
Firoza is the Director of NGO ‘Smart Commute Foundation’ that promotes programs like #Cycle2Work, #Cycle2School and #MeCycleRider, which deals in donation of cycles to the disadvantaged.
In her talk at a recently aired TV show ‘The Cycle of Change’ she pressed upon the need to upgrade public transportation and nurture the cycling ecosystem.
Gopesh Debnath, Bicycle Mayor of Agartala …
collaborated with the state education minister for Covid Relief fund raiser. He reached out to his college networks such as faculties and staff for donations and used his bicycle to visit the donor’s residence and collected money.
About 150 families benefited with relief material from the financial contributions collected by Gopesh and his fellow cyclists.
Professionally, Gopesh is an artist and teaches visual art in government art college, Tripura. He is the founder of ‘Agartala Cycloholics’ and conducts cycling awareness programs in his city.
Gopesh aims to increase ridership amongst females particularly in livelihood category. His cycling mission is backed by his wife and 10- year old daughter who have started cycling to work.
Pooja Vijay, Bicycle Mayor of Jaipur …
introduced a creative concept #FancyOnWheels. To break boredom, families were asked to put up a virtual fashion show with a bicycle. Participants clicked photos with decorated bicycles and submitted their entries and the best ones received gratification.
This idea is now implemented on National and International scale with more cyclists as we approach the World Bicycle Day on 3rd June.
Pooja is known for her unique concepts and consistent in rolling out campaigns like Kids Cyclothon, Holi ride, Cycle Polo League and regularly conducts topical events.
Pooja is the founder of ‘Pink Pedals’, a cycle rental and tourism service operated in Jaipur.
Prakash Gopinath, Bicycle Mayor of Trivandrum …
launched a community service ‘Books by Bicycle’. Prakash and his team at Indus Cycling Embassy ensured safe delivery of books within the municipal limits to customers who placed their orders through a link and what’s app group.
Prakash is leading the development of cycling for years and rallies for social causes with the latest one being ‘Cycle Tube’. Cyclists can avail roadside assistance for breakdown and repair under this project.
The city of Trivandrum will soon get a Junior Bicycle Mayor, a talent hunt process is already implemented by Prakash and his team.
Workwise, Prakash was a senior section engineer at India Railways and took a VRS in 2015 to pursue his passion for cycling, traveling and trekking.
Sathya Sankaran, Bicycle Mayor of Bangalore …
established the ‘Relief Riders’ service with over 50 bicyclists volunteering to assist those in need of supplies during lockdown. Targeted to the Senior Citizens, the #CycleToWork members delivered groceries and medicines to the elderly with each Relief Rider restricted to a single trip a day, maintaining adequate hygiene and precautions.
Sathya is one of the earliest appointed Bicycle Mayor and has invested his heart and soul to improve clean and connected mobility future for Bangalore.
With 10 years of experience in civic activism and mobility interventions, Sathya is making a difference with his campaigns around urban planning, urban governance, non-motorised transport and public policy.
Sathya is the Director at Urban Morph, urban planning and design company and operates a tech platform cycle to work that encourages more people to get involved and reduce CO2 emissions.
Kudos to these urban catalyst for their efforts.
Looking at the role of the bicycle, it’s fair to say ‘Bicycles have come to the Fore’.
Image credits: Bicycle Mayors of India.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai