Saturday, November 14th 2009 saw a different kind of Children’s day event in Jayanagar. Kids were not dressed as Nehru or Indira Gandhi and were not singing or dancing. Instead, they all came out on their cycles and demanded safer roads for cycling to school.
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About 200 students from various schools in Jayanagar, including MES school, Good Shepherd school, JSS school, Vijaya school were joined by Transport Minister R Ashoka, Jayanagar, MLA B N Vijayakumar and film actor Pooja Gandhi in a cycle rally. Justice Saldanha also spoke on rights of children in roads and urban spaces.
Students had placards on their cycles demanding safer roads, separate lanes and lesser traffic.
Some enthusiastic cyclists had painted a cycle lane on some sections of the route. Earlier in the day, the children spoke about what they want in terms of safe road to school. Some students were concerned about the traffic, some others on the safety aspect, and a few demanded respect from motorists.
The children also expressed their concerns about traffic and pollution through paintings. There was one painting which had motor vehicles all over the drawing sheet – just like we see day in and day out. There was another one which showed the planet Earth being eaten away by a monster arising out of vehicular pollution. There was one which showed how the world can be green, but how it is not, right now.
TI cycles provided cycles as prizes to all winners and Reva Electric provided caps to all participants.
Minister Ashoka touched upon the various initiatives that the transport department has undertaken – like banning of two-stroke engine autos and converting autos to run on Auto LPG.
Vijayakumar promised to install cycle racks in Lalbagh to start with, so that people can cycle to the park and safely park their cycles.
After participating in the rally, Pooja Gandhi was reminded of her younger days when she used to cycle in the broad roads of Delhi where she grew up. She expressed hope that the cycle movement spreads from Jayanagar to all parts of Karnataka.
Saldanha expressed his desire that Bangalore should become the cycle city of India. Though he acknowledged that it may not be very safe to cycle now, he is confident things will improve through proper planning, adding “we need to recognise that a cyclist also has to have a right to the road”. He requested the government, on behalf of all the children, that Cubbon park should be completely closed to traffic on Sundays and holidays so that they can enjoy cycling without being hassled by traffic. He urged school authorities and citizens to take up the issue of the right to road for children.
The event raised a few questions on cyclists’ safety and implementation, brought out some suggestions and promises but more importantly, set the ball rolling for a safe road to school for kids.
The event was organised by Murali H R, Pradeep B V and Supreeth Srinivasamurthy, all volunteers of Ride a Cycle foundation (RAC-F), in association with the Transport department of Karnataka, as part of air pollution reduction initiatives on Children’s Day.
Murali is a corporate trainer, Pradeep works with Mapunity and Supreeth is a creative designer. ⊕