Ahmedabad rose to a refreshing morning amidst social distancing and masked cyclists riding their two wheels. The Moto: demand cycle and pedestrian friendly infrastructure under the India Cycles4Change campaign.

Smart City Ahmedabad Development Limited (SCADL) which is contesting to become a cycle friendly city under the Smart Cities Mission Project promoted by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Co- organized a cycle rally on Sunday, 27th September 2020.

Over 3000 citizens registered online for this ride which was open to all. Keeping COVID-19 concerns in mind, the ride was organized in a unique way where in the participants had to start their ride from home. The organizers had suggested 2 routes which the cyclists could enter and exit from any point. The organizers suggested wearing white t-shirts and the cyclists turned up in large numbers to show cooperation for a unilateral idea of ‘building a safe and healthy Ahmedabad city’.

Considering the on-going pandemic, this ride was purposed to unite people for a common cause and intensify the cycling movement.

Nitin Sangwan, CEO of SCADL who was present at the rally stated “Citizens are the key stakeholders in the Cycles4Change challenge and we are glad to see so many of them cycling today. This is an effort to encourage and promote cycling among the masses, and I urge people to continue this momentum for the good health of the individuals and the city”.

MyByk, a leading public bike sharing company in Ahmedabad and a key pillar of the Ahmedabad Cycles4Change campaign, presented full support to the rally. Arjit Soni, founder at MyByk India demonstrated ‘equal right of street space’ with a Car shaped cut-out wrapped around his cycle. He also introduced a new safety guard for cycles which guides motorists to respect cyclists and ensure ‘Safe Distance’ while overtaking cyclists.

Road Safety is an ongoing challenge in India. As per 2018 annual statistics released by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 3,673 bicyclists (versus 3,559 in 2017) and 22,656 pedestrians (versus 20,457 in 2017) were killed, which is matter of great concern.

Speaking on this issue Arjit said “If everyone starts using cars for their commute, there will be no space left on the roads. We need to reduce our use of car and switch to cycling for short commutes and public transport for long commutes as much as we can. We can start by adopting cycle to work atleast 1 day per week and hopefully that will be enough to convince the cities to invest in safe cycling infrastructure”.

Citizen activism is picking up in Ahmedabad city as the global awareness for cycling takes shape post COVID-19 outbreak. A number of cycling groups have formed alliance to push their agenda of making Ahmedabad the bicycling city of India.

Apart from SCADL and MyByk, the support for this rally proliferated through crucial efforts made by Urban advocacy group ‘Urbanvoices India’ and professional consultant ‘The Urban Lab’.

‘Cycling Cities’, a mobile app launched by India’s first Bicycle Mayor of Baroda congratulated the Ahmedabadi’s for a successful beginning to the Cycle4Change campaign through this rally.

The Ahmedabad Cycles4Change team comprising of 20 individuals belonging to the cycling ecosystem formed by SCADL has identified a city-wide network of 50 kms on which dedicated cycle lanes can be built. Alongside, temporary pop-up cycle routes are being mapped with the help of local organizations to encourage daily commute.

The opening ride garnered tremendous support from local cycling clubs such as Cyclone Cycling Club, Simbalian Cycling Community, Pedal Power Group, Road Soldiers, Motion on Wheels among others.

Manish Singh, a neighborhood resident tweeted “…enjoyed morning cycling with family after so many months of lockdown”.

Likewise, a tweet by Khusboo Thakkar read “I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life. I ride a bike to add life to my days”.

Photo credits: Ahmedabad Cycles4Change, Support organizations and participants

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Source: Ahmedabad Cycles4Change

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