Cycling Accelerates India’s Green Shift


Cycling as a way of escaping domestic confinement during the first lockdown fortuitously translated for Placemaking India’s Chennai-based Cycling Ambassador, Venugopal AV, into supporting a mission to make the non-motorised two-wheeler a more visible and substantial fixture in the modal mix on India’s thoroughfares.

In his day job as research associate with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), Venu plays an instrumental role in guiding cities across the country through the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ push for micro-mobility. To date, the Cycles4Change programme of the Smart Cities Mission has accelerated the earmarking of 400+ kms of main roads and 3500+ kms of neighbourhood streets for transformation. About 50 cities have organised events to build community support and awareness of the benefits of cycling. Nationwide, some 60,000 people responded to surveys by the administrations to understand the difficulties faced by cyclists, while 600 community service organisations signed on to support the cities.

In this blog for “Unbuild Back Better,” Venu provides ten snapshots of Indian cities waking up to this green and healthy mode of commuting which is also fun, not to mention equitable, and reduces the strain on public transport in the days of physical distancing.

Interviewing postmen to better understand cycling issues from the point of view of commuting; building a community of cyclists through rallies, cycleathons and free bike repair clinics; city officials leading by example by cycling to work atleast once a week; light-quick-cheap solutions such as repurposing light poles and old tyres to create pop-up bike lanes; audits, public consultations and crowdsourced design ideas are all accelerating the green shift in transport across the length and breadth of India.

Background music consisting of Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh on the veena and Akshay Anand on the mridangam by is the copyright of Udupa Foundation.

Music rights reserved with Udupa Foundation