Two big things happened to the Indian cycling this week. Prime Minister of the Netherlands cycled in Bangalore with Sathya Sankaran, the bicycle mayor of Bangalore. And Erik Solheim, former environment minister of Norway cycled in Hyderabad city with Santhana Selvan, the bicycle mayor of Hyderabad.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte was on an official visit to India to extend economic ties between India and the Netherlands. He gave a huge surprise to the people of Bangalore by visiting Church Street which is a pedestrian only street in Bangalore. The honorable Prime Minister was accompanied by Sathya Sankaran where opportunities of collaboration on the cycling ecosystem were discussed. Like any other Dutch national, Mark is often seen cycling to the parliament and in the city center in the Netherlands. But it is uncommon for a high-level delegate to cycle in India and mix around with the public. This is a big statement for the leadership in India and across the world.
Mark walked his way to explore the street and stopped to take photos with the crowd gathered to appreciate his arrival. Sathya who spoke to him briefly believes that Indian cities has a lot to learn from the Dutch experts and there is tremendous potential to co-operate at various levels to develop cycling infrastructure. We can do wonders by collaborating to accelerate the cycling agenda and create a healthier, and sustainable infrastructure in Indian cities.
Cycling ticks several of the United Nations sustainable development goals and global leaders like Mark are leading from the front and others can take inspiration from his action.
Below is the tweet by Mark Rutte on X (formerly twitter) posted on 11th September 2023:
Erik Solheim landed in Hyderabad and visited India’s first Solar roof, 23 km long cycling track which is almost ready and soon to be launched officially. Erik had twitted about a similar cycle track in South Korea few years ago which was noticed by an official in Hyderabad explains Santhana. The official responded on this tweet by saying let’s build this in India. Years later, the project saw the light of the day. Santhana further says that the Solar roof cycling track is an outcome of a tri-party effort – Government, cycling community of Hyderabad and private contractor who has designed it so well.
Erik engaged with the city administrative officials and cyclists from Hyderabad Cycling Revolution. He explored the cycle track on a road bike and applauded the people involved for bringing alive this novel idea. Santhana adds that the Solar roof cycle track will encourage a culture of fitness, commuting and recreation. This model is a benchmark and other cities can come up with their own innovative solutions. This cycle track will also attract tourists from across the world who can come to experience the state-of-the-art facility and promote cycle tourism in Hyderabad.
We can learn from the mistakes done in the past of creating a car-centric infrastructure by the developed nations and later seen re-shifting priorities towards pedestrian friendly, bicycle friendly and low car streets with focus on offering attractive public transport.
Here is the tweet by Arvind Kumar, IAS officer, Secretary urban infra and development, Hyderabad on 15th September 2023:
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Top photo credit: Sathya Sankaran
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai