Road War­riors

Ur­ban cy­clists ride for fun and fit­ness de­spite dan­gers on the streets.

India Today - - INSIDE - By Gay­a­tri Ja­yara­man

Ev­ery day, Altaf Makhi­wala, a UNICEF em­ployee in Delhi, com­mutes to his of­fice in Lodhi Es­tate from his home in Niza­mud­din on his Da­hon Eco 3 fold­able bi­cy­cle. It has been three years since Makhi­wala has been rid­ing to work and has got used to cu­ri­ous stares from Del­hi­ites who of­ten roll down their car win­dows at traf­fic lights to ask him how he does it.

“I make sure that I fol­low traf­fic rules, stop at lights, show hand sig­nals, and drive slowly to the right or the left side of the road de­pend­ing on where I need to turn,” says the 32-year-old, who de­vel­oped a pas­sion for cy­cling dur­ing his stu­dent days in Europe.

In­dia may be slowly wit­ness­ing an in­creased in­ter­est in cy­cling now, but the cy­cle was first in­tro­duced in the coun­try way back in 1890. Ac­cord­ing to Pankaj Munjal, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Hero Cy­cles, im­ported cy­cles such as Raleigh and Her­cules would cost around Rs 45 in those days. By 1919, when in­tro­duced at Shimla’s Mall Road, the one-hour cy­cling ses­sion was a spec­ta­cle for the pub­lic. It was only by 1920 that one of In­dia’s first Olympians,

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