World Bicycle Day gives us an opportunity to renew our commitment towards cycling, to build more partnerships and to think big for the days that are going to come before us. Let us realise that the magnitude we are dealing with in our cities is immense. Therefore, whatever we are doing at the moment has to scale-up.
Let this be the year when your city comes out on top as far as bold, future-oriented, citizen-centric policies are concerned. Let us work as a team to make this a cycling year for our country.– Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director, Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs
On June 3rd 2022, India celebrated World Bicycle Day akin to a nationwide festival. People across all genders & ages—women, children, and elderly—came riding fearlessly on their cycles and took over their streets. Over 50 cities from all over the country brought communities together for cycle rallies, women-only cycle rides, cyclothons, and much more.
Thousands of citizens and city leaders cycled as part of the ‘One-day Cycling Challenge’, and committed to cycle more—for work, errands, and for health! For the first time, over 40 cities conducted knowledge-sharing sessions for citizens to embrace cycling. Cities also pledged to institutionalise campaigns, adopt progressive policies, and set systems to create a safe walking and cycling environment for all. These cycling celebrations were not just for a day, but continued across the entire week, from the 3rd to the 10th of June!
Citizens flock to the streets of India en masse for World Cycling Day
Celebrating two years of the India Cycles4Change Challenge
City leaders & officials, cycling champions & cycle manufacturing industries from all over India connected virtually on a session by the Smart Cities Mission— to celebrate two years of the India Cycle4Change Challenge and to reflect on the journey so far.
The India Cycles4Change Challenge—hosted by the Smart Cities Mission of the Housing & Urban Affairs and co-hosted by ITDP India—aims to inspire cities to create cycling-friendly streets and neighbourhoods, where everyone can safely and comfortably cycle, regardless of their class, gender, age, or ability.
Over the last two years, the Challenge has inspired over 100 cities to collectively transform India into a cycling-friendly nation. Cities have proposed and initiated on-ground transformation of nearly 4000 kms, mobilising nearly 2000 civic groups & individuals to take action, and hosted more than 400 citizen events.
The India Cycles for Change Challenge has been an amazing platform for all the cities to try new things. When we started putting cycle lanes in the Indian scenario we realised the hurdles that we need to overcome. The Challenge has given the opportunity for cyclists like us to engage positively with government agencies to provide solutions.– Sathya Sankaran, Bicycle Mayor, Bengaluru
To ensure an inclusive design and planning process, cities have onboarded women as part of the decision-making committees. Cities tested ideas like cycle training schools, women-only cycle rallies, free cycle repair clinics, and cycle donations for the needy, and cooperative cycle rental schemes.
Silvassa Smart City team urged mothers to pick up the long forgotten habit of cycling, assisted them in brushing up their cycling skills, and reinvented the confidence they lacked. Going to the neighbourhoods, talking to them, engaging them helped us reach more and more citizens.– Charmie Parikh, CEO, Silvassa Smart City
Leading by example, city officials cycled to work, highlighting the ease of mobility and benefits of cycling, and inspiring their citizens to cycle too! Following this, several cities are now partnering with private organisations and corporates to incentivise their employees to cycle to work.
The India Cycles4Change Challenge has changed the way we look at cycling, from a poor man’s vehicle to a status symbol. During the challenge, the leaders were on cycles, and therefore, the perspective has now changed. We hope to continue this momentum together.– Bhairrvi Joshi, CEO, BYCS India
Moving towards long-term change
We have come a long way with two years of the India Cycles4Change Challenge, and today is a testament of that. The day started with political leaders, mayors, MPs, city leaders, commissioners, engineers and their teams alongwith citizen champions and cyclists from cities across the country, all of us cycling on our streets.
I hope all of you will continue putting the efforts to cycle more often and more importantly continue taking the steps to adopt policies that prioritise cycling.– Aswathy Dilip, Managing Director, ITDP India
Demonstrating their commitment to transform themselves into cycling-friendly cities, on World Bicycle Day over 20 cities pledged to adopt the “Healthy Streets” Policy, which prioritises walking, cycling, and public transport to enable all citizens to safely access work, education, social opportunities, and other essentials. Over 20 cities started work towards implement “30 KMPH Slow Streets” to reduce the risk of fatalities for pedestrians and cyclists, and to institutionalise “Open Streets” programmes so people can experience their streets as open, public spaces, week after week!
We have a dedicated technical cell for Cycles4Change in Jabalpur and we have notified our Healthy Streets policy after stakeholder consultations. We are now scaling up our interventions to implement permanent on-ground works using learnings from Stage 1 of the Challenge.– Sambhav Ayachi, Deputy Commissioner, Jabalpur Municipal Corporation
Cities are now working towards scaling up cycling initiatives and bringing long-term resilience through city-wide cycle network plans, policy adoptions, and institutional setups.
In July 2022, a dynamic leaderboard will be launched to showcase the cities’ performance and progress based on the initiatives taken towards the identified goals for 2023. It will also be a tool to build support for scaling up and securing funding & investments.
Celebrating the #HumansWhoCycle
To celebrate the diversity of the bicycle and its users, we at ITDP India spoke to people from different walks of life and heard from them the story of what keeps them pedalling.
Popular Tamil actor Arya shared not just his story but also an important PSA about cycling and the myriad benefits it offers.
And closer home, ITDPians too told the world why they love to cycle!
We hope that cities and citizens continue to build on this cycling momentum and celebrate it every single day, all year round! And you can do your bit towards this, too. Swap your motor vehicle with a cycle for your short trips—start with 5km and lesser, and then consider doing longer trips too. Choose to commute to work by cycle. Offer time to train others to cycle, especially women and children. Participate in cycle donation programmes. And most importantly, nudge your close friends and family members to cycle too.
The more people cycle, the more visible the community becomes, the stronger the cycling revolution becomes!
Written by: Sophiya Islam & Aishwarya Soni