Cyclists campaign for safety on Bengaluru roads


Pic: Sam Dennis

This Sunday, more than 3000 cyclists participated in a ride to mark the World Bicycle Day that is observed on June 3rd. The cyclists gathered in front of the State Central Library at Cubbon Park to make a call to motorists to keep them safe on roads.

The event was organised by the citizens’ group CiFoS (Citizens for Sustainability) in association with various government departments. It marked the launch of an year-long campaign #ABetterBangalorean, to sensitise motorists to not harass cyclists and to ensure their safety.

The event started at 6 am on Sunday, with cyclists being provided free T-shirts that had #KEEPMESAFE printed on them. Bicycle operators such as Yulu, Bounce, Social Cycles and Icycle gave the participants free cycles for the ride.

Mahendra Jain, Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department, Ajay Seth, Managing Director of BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd), Bhaskar Rao, ADGP at the KSRP (Karnataka Special Reserve Police), and Muralikrishna, Special Officer at DULT (Directorate of Urban Land Transport) attended the event. Other dignitaries included Gert Heijkoop, Consul General of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Sebastien Hug, Consul General of Switzerland, and Dr Ashwin Mahesh, urban expert and CEO of Mapunity.

The dignitaries distributed ‘Cycle to work’ awards to the best-performing companies of the quarter – Qualcomm, Bosch and Cisco. The awards are based on data from the technology platform that tracks bicycle use among employees of various companies in the city. Only employees can register on the website, and data on their daily commute is collated, to rank their companies. The best-performing companies are given awards every quarter.

At the event, Juniper Networks was presented the ‘Rising star’ award for moving up the leaderboard the fastest, from 45th to fourth position within a quarter. Bosch also won an award for having the most number of women riders.

Around 3000 cyclists participated in the event. Pic: Sam Dennis

Speaking at the event, Mahendra Jain said, “NMT (Non-motorised Transport), walking, bicycling and public transport are the cornerstones of the mobility policy of Karnataka government. We have provided over Rs 80 crore in this budget for bicycling lanes, and over Rs 200 crore for improving footpaths. The enthusiasm I see in people towards bicycling is heartwarming.” Jain himself had cycled around 10 kms from HSR Layout, to attend the event.

Ajay Seth of BMRCL said that Public Bike Sharing (PBS) would encourage public transport. In Bengaluru, PBS is promoted by companies like Bounce and Yulu that allow users to rent a bicycle, thus reducing their need to buy vehicles. Seth said that BMRCL would promote PBS by providing bicycle parking facility in all Metro stations.

Bhaskar Rao said that the momentum towards cycling was encouraging, and that many of his colleagues in KSRP had cycled across Karnataka.

The ride was flagged off by 7.30 am, and many participants completed rides of 5, 10 and 15 kilometres. Tandava Poppuri, Cycle to Work Ambassador at Dell EMC, said, “The CycleToWork and RideForSafety journey has just begun. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm among participants. Bengaluru, be ready to have more cyclists on the road, and keep them safe.” Cycle to Work Ambassador is an employee representing the cyclists in each company, selected from the platform.

Prabha Dev, another rider, said, “Bringing together Bengaluru for NMT is reassuring. Public transport beku.”

After the ride, CiFoS Co-founder Sathya Sankaran said, “Our #CycleToWork campaign had found that cyclists were concerned about their safety on the road. Cyclists’ safety is in the hands of others. While infrastructure and good design can solve the problem to some extent, people’s attitude and the culture of sharing roads is a matter of mindset. That’s why we are calling for a change in the driving culture, and to make equity on streets a reality.” Sankaran holds the honorary position of Bicycle Mayor of Bengaluru, and is part of a global network of bicycle mayors created by the non-profit BYCS to promote cycling.

The dignitaries and cyclists also made hand-prints on a #KeepMeSafe banner, which BMRCL will display at Minsk Square for a week, to spread awareness among motorists.

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About Sathya Sankaran 17 Articles
Sathya Sankaran is a urban affairs podcaster and Bicycle Mayor of Bengaluru