Rohan kini is on a year-long-sabbatical from his job at Thoughtworks, a Bangalore-based IT Consulting firm. And this break is not to enhance his educational qualification, but to give time to his bicycle store, Bums on the Saddle, which he began five years ago along with his friend Nikhil, a mechanical engineer who works with the BMW group. “I used to commute to work on my cycle, 22 kms in a day for quite some time as the traffic in Bangalore really got to me,” says Kini, who also began the Bangalore Bikers Club (BBC) after he discovered the joys of commuting on the cycle. What began as a small initiative has grown up into a full-fledged enterprise and a constantly evolving group with BBC having around 3,000 members. While a number of cycle lovers do find the cyclothon a fun exercise to popularise the sport, the serious cyclists eye the long distances.
Rohan is just one of the growing number of cycle enthusiasts who have taken to this eco-friendly and healthier way of transportation that is catching on fast with the masses. Cities like Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai have seen a sizeable growth in the number of cycle users over the last couple of years. Though a popular sport in the global arena, cycling in India, and that too for commuting is not that popular. “It’s still not a high-class indulgence,” says 45-year-old Anita Roy, commissioning editor at Young Zubaan, a Delhi-based publishing house, who cycles to work as its the “most practical form of travelling.”
Having grown up in England, Roy moved to Delhi 16 years ago, but found it settle down in the city owing to the traffic woes and the constantly rising pollution levels. “People used to drive for even short distances and I didn’t want to be one of those who added to the growing motor population,” says Roy, who sold her car to a vegetable vendor and bought a bicycle. But isn't it unsafe to ride a cycle on Delhi roads, especially being a woman? “Woman on a cycle gets a far better treatment. I’ve had people smiling, encouraging and appreciating me when I'm on the road,” says the feisty woman, who rides a basic gearless Rajdoot Ranger.
While Roy finds travelling on cycle a better way to connect with people, there are others like 44-year-old Pune-based Divya Tate who found cycling a solution to