The second panel discussion, in the run-up to the World Environment Day highlighted the role of promoting cycling in cities and creating an infrastructure around it. The panel ‘Cycling: A Sustainable Mode of Transportation’ was organised by LetMeBreathe and UN Environment Programme, India.
The four-membered panel discussed how India can bolster the adoption of a cycling culture in the country with Ankur Tewari, musician, Aswathy Dilip, Managing Director of ITDP India, Lucas Snaije, Research & Communications Manager of BYCS (An Amsterdam-based global NGO guided by the belief that bicycles transform cities and cities transform the world).
Talking about the role of mobility in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Aswathy said, “Cycling plays a very important role because it provides access to education, to work, to healthcare, to recreation in the simplest ways. It does not divide you from being rich or poor, old or young, women or men. As long as we create our cities that are safe for cycling, we are creating cities that are inclusive, affordable, accessible for a whole host of people thereby leading us to these SDGs quicker.”
Throwing light on urban planning and space crunch in cities, Lucas pointed out the need for connected and protected bike lanes. He gave the example of Mexico city and said, “The ITDP office has been instrumental in supporting the government of Mexico city in developing wide, protected, and wonderful bike lanes that has had a transformational effect on the amount of riders in the city. I think this is the kind of example that can actually be much more connected to the realities of large cities such as in India,” he said. Apart from people-centric urban planning and safe, connected bike lanes, there’s also a need to support people to start cycling, he added.
Ankur on the other hand suggested artists and musicians should promote cycling by providing incentives in tickets for their shows. “I feel that cycling should be incentivised… There should be things where you feel that there is an incentive to use the cycle and you see the benefits of using it not just for your health and the environment but for yourself. The added benefits to that is you’re also helping the environment with both air and noise pollution that the cars create. At least in India, it would be amazing if we can incentivise people to use bicycles over using cars.”