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