India’s First ‘Bicycle Mayor’ is on an innovative Eco-friendly mission

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Nikita Lalvani

It’s the most recurring thought that often strikes people waiting in endless traffic jams: wouldn’t it be so much simpler to use bicycles as a mode of commute?

Not only is the humble bicycle a pollution-free mode of transport, it is even the perfect way to keep a check on your health as. Baroda’s first bicycle Mayor Nikita Lalvani and the Amsterdam based NGO ByCS has given us enough reasons to thank them for their innovative and environment-friendly global program “Bicycle mayor”.

Nikita Lalwani, an instrumentation engineer by profession, decided to start cycling to work three years back, when a flyover construction ended up doubling her commute time for a mere distance of four kilometres. Nikita found her inspiration during a visit to Germany in 2014 where she observed that a major chunk of the population used cycles for transportation late in 2014.

She followed it with conducting surveys to understand cycling trends and the varying psychological attitudes that might deter people from being not too confident to take up cycling. She formed a pan-India team and organised her first event at the opening of Decathlon Baroda followed by another event in Rohini, Delhi. These events included games like pedal power, smart commute and cycling myth busters.

TRING, a pilot project by Cycling Cities, was launched in 2016 at Nikita’s own office. In a bid to get professionals interested in cycling, the initiative rented them cycles with helmets, guidance and initial support rides. An acronym for ‘Try Cycling’, Nikita planed on collaborating with more corporate organisations in the city to evolve the cycling culture at an institutional level.

The Bicycle Mayor programme is part of a global network by CycleSpace, an initiative that aims to accelerate the trend of cycling in cities. But this is not the only platform that has applauded Nikita’s initiatives

Taking up the role of the first Bicycle Mayor for an Indian city, Nikita has been invited to the Bicycle Mayor Summit slated to be held in Amsterdam in June, followed by a global cycling conference, Velo-City 2017. In collaboration with the crowdfunding website Milaap, she is raising essential funds that will enable her to go to the Netherlands and cover her accommodation, travel and other expenses during the conference.

“Bicycle Mayor” an honorary two-year position, is a global programme envisioned by the Amsterdam-based NGO ByCS. The group is targeting a world with 50% of all city trips covered by bicycles by 2030. Bengaluru will be the third city in the country to have a BM, after Baroda and Guwahati.

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