Friday, 12 October 2012

For the Love of Cycling

All of us, at some stage of our childhood, have tried our hand at cycling. As we grew up, motorbikes and cars became our preferred means of transport. But the humble bicycle is making a comeback and that too in a serious way. A cyclist, with all his gear and an expensive cycle is has become a common sight on a weekend morning in most parts of the city. It’s not just the youth; people from older age groups too are rediscovering the joy of cycling. Being cycling enthusiasts ourselves, we set out on the hunt for people who are in love with cycling, and we stumbled upon a whole bunch of cycling freaks! Discovering Mumbai presents to you ‘BandraCyclists Club’, a group of cyclists from in and around the western suburb of Bandra.
You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic!

‘Bandra Cyclists Club’ (BCC) was started by Chandni Tolani in January this year. Chandni happens to be an entrepreneur and runs a digital marketing firm called ‘Boomerang Media’. BCC was born out of her interest for cycling and to find people who shared the same interest. Bandra traffic was one of the reasons she got attracted to cycling. “Being a resident of Bandra, the traffic scene is something that annoys and irritates me the most. I am a cycling enthusiast and I prefer riding to places in the vicinity instead of driving or taking a rick”, says Chandni. Most of her friends, even though not all of them cycle, do show interest in her hobby. Even her parents are very supportive as they feel it’s a great way to exercise as well as to avoid traffic!
Chandni Tolani - Founder, Bandra Cyclists Club

“When I started the club, my basic motive was to find riders in Bandra, because like I mentioned, most of my friends were not into cycling”, says Chandni. She started spreading word about her club on Twitter. Within two months she had 20 cycling enthusiasts as members of the club. As of now the number of members stands at 112. Chandni has taken requisite care to ensure that non cyclists are not added to the group as this will only increase the number of non-focussed members. “Anyone who cycles or wants to start cycling can become a member of this group. It is a closed group and we take strict action against spammers”, says Chandni. The group was initially used to communicate to other riders when they were going for rides. As the number of members increased, they have now started planning bigger events like breakfast rides, weekend rides and more.

Chandni agrees to our point that cycling culture is fast catching up in the city. “Yes, definitely. The hike in petrol prices plus word of mouth is increasing the popularity of the cycling culture. People take it up as a fitness method, as a mode of transport and as a hobby”, says Chandni. However, she is not very positive about the state of Mumbai’s roads. The roads are definitely not very cycle friendly. The club members hope that the government will soon provide cycling lanes. Cities like Bangalore already have cycling lanes. Maybe, the government will soon take note of the demands of cyclists, as the numbers of this community is increasing every day. With more awareness about the health and environment benefits of cycling more Mumbaikars can be attracted towards cycling.

Right now the club, as their name suggests, cycles mostly around Bandra. “Carter Road and Bandstand are great to cycle. Also, the smaller by-lanes of Bandra make smooth cycling paths”, says Chandni. But they don’t plan to remain restricted to Bandra. BCC hopes to increase participation from other parts of the city and eventually wants to become ‘Mumbai Cyclists Club’, by the end of next year. BCC wants more Mumbaikars to take to cycling both as a means of fitness and as a mode of transportation.

The city is wonderful! Full of life, always buzzing. Let’s just work on decreasing the noise pollution as well as air pollution by getting on to those bikes! Motorists should respect cyclists and allow them to cycle peacefully. Pedestrians should begin to use the footpaths to walk because we need the sides of the roads to cycle. Lastly, don’t forget to wear the right cycling gear when you go cycling”, says Chandni. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to grab a cycle and join the cycling revolution that has the city in its thrall. Hope to see you around Bandra soon, on a cycle! Happy riding!

You can read more about the club on their Facebook page -  Bandra Cyclists Club

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