Sohrab H. Bhoot, instituted the national Cycling Federation of India. In the 1950s, with the expansion of Indian cycling companies, the common man started riding because it was more affordable.
That was until the car became ubiquitous. Not just that, class consciousness has also prevented many from taking to this environmentfriendly mode of transport. Anil Uchil, 43, a corporate communications professional who founded Cycle to Work in Mumbai in 2010, agrees, but says the entry of imported, high-end cycles has brought about a huge change. Uchil, who has been cycling to work since 1993, says, “Today the average urban cyclist rides a cycle that does not cost less than Rs 20,000. But my focus in the last few years has been the middle income groups which probably doesn’t have access to these high-end brands. I aim to reduce the snobbery associated with it and my message is simple: It doesn’t matter what you ride, just maintain your cycle and ride it.”
Cycling enthusiasts in the country, however, are not having it easy. And it’s not just because of the chaotic streets, the poor condition of roads and the lack of dedicated cycling tracks. In states such as West Bengal, a severe restriction has been placed on cycling. While 38 streets have been off-limits to cyclists in Kolkata since 2008, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made the rules even tougher this year. On May 24, Banerjee banned cycles on an additional 174 streets in Kolkata. Of these, there has been a complete ban on 42 streets while on the rest, cycling is banned from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m
Cyclists have not taken the ban well and there have been protests in the city such as the Cycle Satyagraha on September 8 and Chakra Satyagraha on October 5. A recent Kolkata Municipal Development report stated that 2.5 million trips are made in Kolkata on cycles every day. Gautam Shroff, 39, founder of Right 2 Breathe, a group of cycling enthusi-
NEIL LAW(THIRD FROM RIGHT)
WITH FELLOW CYCLISTS