Cycle 2 Work for a Healthier, Eco-friendly & Happier Lifestyle
With a rapid increase in the urbanization, it is expected that more than 60 percent of the population in India will be living in the cities by 2050. Given the reduced quality of city life and exposure to natural environment, it has become imperative to address some of the critical issues like air pollution and traffic congestion. Initiatives like promoting cycling to work on a large scale can go a long way in solving these issues. Both, Malveeka and I would like share our journey of making ‘Cycle 2 Work’, a new normal.
We all have fondly memories of how we learned the art of balancing on two wheels and started cycling in our childhood. For some, parents and friends taught cycling, and some took it up as an athletic endeavor. For many like us, cycling remained a hobby or a fun activity, until we started learning about climate change. Given the drastic consequences of increasing emissions on our planet, cycling has transitioned from being just a sport to a mechanism for reducing our carbon footprint.
Before we decided to take up cycling as our mode of commutation, we explored other sustainable ways like public transport and walking. Considering the threats of pandemic, a pinch of dubiety about public transport and safety is always there, while on the other hand walking down to the office is not preferable for longer routes. Therefore, we decided to try Cycle for our work commute and checked for available options.
The easy availability and affordability of bikes on rent allowed us and a lot of other enthusiasts like us to experiment with cycling, without having to invest in a cycle upfront. It was easier, less time consuming than walking, cheaper and surprisingly fun!
Then started our journey of cycle to work. Opting for a cycle to commute to work has been perceived positively by our colleagues. As much they were surprised, initially, to see us deciding on this, that much inspired they became gradually to integrate cycling in their lifestyle. With more emphasis on both climate change and physical fitness in conversations today, we can see that a lot of people are interested in adopting sustainable and healthy lifestyles.
However, like every other good thing in life, this too doesn’t come without limitations. We have observed a few common challenges that keep people from adopting cycling in their daily lives. Cycling in peak traffic with jam-packed roads with no dedicated cycling lanes is a massive issue. To add to it, lack of clear road signs and low lighting in the late evenings make it even more challenging for the new cyclists. Even those who don’t take that route often find it difficult to ride a cycle in the absence of such amenities.
We also realized that for safety reasons a proper system should be followed by the cyclists like having safety gear, helmet, gloves, front and rear lights and knee caps. In addition to that choosing non-peak hours can be really helpful in avoiding traffic and heat. Appropriate selection of a road (avoiding highways) is also necessary as it can make cycling-to-work a hassle-free commute experience. Once you start cycling, you will realize how convenient it is. Everyday, workers across genders regularly cycle to work even in hot weather, in fact most of them use very basic cycles. Needless to say, cycling adds to their stamina and good health. However, cycling in hot weather, with an all-season exposure to air pollutants and dust necessitate the need of shower rooms at work places.
By adopting the practice of cycling to work, we have become more connected with Bengaluru as we can experience places like tech parks and the recreation spots that we usually avoid due to parking constraints, but with the cycle in place it becomes easier. This also indicates at the necessity of allotting dedicated parking spaces in the offices for the employees who commute by cycle would feel more convenient and encouraged. Such an initiative will help in promoting cycle to work concept as others may also feel motivated by this.
Last but not the least, we realized that culture and community can enable us to achieve more than what we can try to accomplish, individually. A community of like-minded people can help break the glass ceilings and bring joy to the experience. The government can play a pivotal role by extending an arm to set up dedicated cycling lanes in the public areas; increase lighting on the roads; and come up with schemes like offering incentives for purchasing Cycles along with massive campaigns for promoting cycling for work and commute.
Organizations can try providing all-weather parking, changing rooms and incentives to encourage cycling to work. We all can play our part to bring cycling into the fold of everyday life for a healthier, eco-friendly and happier lifestyle.
Personally, we have seen immense benefits from ramping in cycling into our lifestyle. Cycling to and from the work not only adds an element of workout during the weekdays, but also provides a much-needed stress free break in our work-dominated lives! You can mull over work after a long day at the office in a cab, but you will be completely in the moment and focused on the roads while riding a cycle! Alternatively, long cycle runs on the weekends are a great way to refresh, recharge and explore the city in the wee morning hours.
In a nutshell, cycling to work is an amazing experience. Its healthy, planet-friendly and adds to happiness dividends — a must-try to revive the sustainable way of life. Let’s paddle for a better tomorrow!
Malveeka Bhandari and Pradeep Karuturi are Climate Reality Leaders, trained during GT-2021, October. Both of them are also the members of Global Shapers Community -Bangalore Hub.