Who doesn't want to beat the heavy traffic?

Lean mean speeding machine Zooming through Bengaluru on a cycle
news Friday, June 17, 2016 - 19:52

A lot of Bengalureans have decided to negotiate India’s largest parking lot (Bengaluru, according to a Twitter user) in the fastest way possible (other than the CM’s convoy). It’s a lean, mean speeding machine: a cycle.

Seven years ago, 43-year-old software professional Chidambaran Subramanian ditched his car for the cycle. A year after he joined up with a cycling group, the JP Nagar resident was convinced that that was the way to go. All 13 km to his office in HSR Layout.

“I started cycling to work was because having to wait in heavy traffic every time is frustrating. Riding a cycle is super convenient, takes much less time and leaves me energetic at the end of the ride,” he says. He last drove his car a month ago. One of the biggest advantages of cycling is the ease of finding a parking spot.

Chidambaran is not the only one who swears by the comfort riding a bicycle to work brings to their personal lives.

A cyclathon he participated in, convinced 60-year-old Dr. Ali Poonawala to forgo his car for the bicycle in 2010. Thanks to the cyclathon, he got over his fear of riding a bike in traffic.

“I used to be particularly scared of BMTC buses. The road was supposed to be empty during the cyclathon, but we ended up riding in mild traffic. That’s what took away my fear. Then, there was no looking back,” he says.

Initially, he would go from his house in Kalaispalyam to several clinics and hospitals, riding around 25km a day. Now, he only practices in his clinic, 8km away from his house in JP Nagar. 

Dr. Ali is amused that some of his patients think he rides a bicycle because he could no longer afford his car. It was the same perplexed reaction he got from patients who were not used to seeing a doctor walk into the hospital dressed in shorts.

Chidambaran had a hearty laugh when one of the staff at his office openly asked him: “Sir, can you not afford a car?” He says he’s learned to shrug off such societal pressures.

For 38-year-old Manjula Sridhar, cycling to work was a joy. “People think it is very difficult to ride a cycle to work, because of the heat and pollution. But that’s not so. The breeze that on your face as you ride is priceless,” she says.

Manjula’s love for cycling is a childhood one. She proudly says that she was the first girl to have learnt cycling at the age of five in her hometown in Raichur district. 

“Considering that I learnt to cycle at such a young age, it was very natural for me to take to cycling and later chose it as a mode of transport,” she says.

Despite this, Manjula gave up cycling to work a year ago, five years after she took it up in 2010. It was just more practical because her work required her to commute across the city during the day.

A technologist by profession, it was only a matter of changing into fresh clothes after a shower at the office for Manjula. But that was no longer possible when she was required to travel frequently during the day to meet clients.  

But for 37-year-old Bellandur resident Shilpi Sahu, lack of changing facilities isn’t enough to stop her. “There is no facility for me to take a shower at my office. So I generally freshen up and get to work,” she says.  

She began to ride to her office in Whitefield occasionally five years ago. But when getting to work using public transport began to be a serious hassle, she decided to go the whole hog.

While for many people, cycling is a way to kill two birds – exercise and commuting – with one machine, Shilpi considers cycling purely as a mode of commuting.

“I would rather run than cycle to get some exercise. I wouldn’t say I took to cycling because I was keen, it was only as a means to get to work without much hassle,” she says. She’s never bothered to go on cycle trips in all these years. 

Having chosen cycling as a means of commute did affect Shilpi’s health. “I used to get a sore throat occasionally. But now I have started to use masks to protect myself from the pollution,” she adds.

Almost envious of the ease, Shilpi’s husband too is set to take it up in a couple of months. He’s just waiting until he begins to work from an office closer to home. Then, it’s go time!