Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, Relief Riders a team of volunteers in Bengaluru with the made sure that their needs were met. From delivering groceries, medicines at their doorstep to fixing a drainage problem the Relief Riders, a group of 200 plus cyclists supported the city's senior citizens during the lockdown.
The Relief Riders, are a Humanitarian-based adventure travel company that leads relief missions. The volunteers of the organisation are a part of the #CycleToWork campaign that Bengaluru's bicycle mayor, Sathya Sankaran. The campaign was launched in 2018, The Hindu reported.
Sankaran is a part of BYCS, is an Amsterdam based social enterprise that leads a network of international cycle mayors. The enterprise believes that bicycles transform cities and cities transform the world. They work with businesses, governments and nonprofits to initiate and scale breakthrough ideas around cycling.
The organisation's 50by30 mission aims at making half of the world's city trips by bicycle, by 2030. According to their website, increasing cycling not only provides clean, accessible mobility solutions but also ensures better mental and physical health, promotes community strength, protects the environment and supports a sustainable economy.
"Public transport is going to be less secure," said Sankaran, Bengaluru's bicycle mayor. The term bicycle mayor refers to a global programme where they elect or appoint people in smaller cities where not too many people are working on commute cycling such as Baroda. They are appointed to promote the cause of cycling, and most of the top cities in the world have one.
"So, using individual motor vehicles seems like an easy alternative. Normalcy doesn't have to necessarily mean going back to our old ways. We can practise a sustainable way of life," he added.
Sankaran along with Dr Arvind Bhateja, a neurosurgeon and a cyclist, have come up with the #ResetWithCycling campaign that aims at bringing communities of professionals together, such as doctors, environmentalists, urban planners and the Government in order to revive cities' transport after the lockdown.
Lending his support to the campaign Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said, "I am urging you to come out and ride our cycle for your own interest and the interest of the city. Spread the word in the community, make it a bigger group."
Bicycle mayors from other cities are also following this venture.
"We are usually considered a nuisance to motorists on roads," Felix John from Chennai wrote to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister seeking better infrastructure for cyclists.
"Now is a good time for the authorities to experiment with cycle corridors on commercial roads like OMR, " he added.
Abhijeet Kupate bicycle mayor from Pune also wrote to the city's Mayor and Police Commissioner. The Pune Municipal Corporation has come up with a 'comprehensive bicycle plan' to develop cycle tracks and design parking spaces among others.
Despite the civic body's efforts, Kupate stated that there's a lack of strategy and planning. He added that he is yet to receive any response from the authorities that he wrote to.
Meanwhile, in Guwahati bicycle mayor, Arshel Akhter, has also appealed to the Assam Government to make the city's roads bike-friendly.
According to The Energy and Resources Institute's (TERI) report from 2018, 'Benefits of Cycling in India', 50 per cent of Indians walk or cycle to work (excluding agriculture and household industries).
In urban areas, apart from walking, employees are most dependent on two-wheelers.
The report estimated that India can save ₹27 billion in fuel and ₹241 billion due to reduced air pollution if 50 per cent of two-wheeler and four-wheeler trips (within eight kilometres) are replaced with cycle journeys.
"If bicycles were to substitute the two-and four-wheelers used for short-distance trips, it can result in an annual benefit of ₹1.8 trillion," reads the report.