– Ramesh Sarraf Dhamora
World Bicycle Day was celebrated for the first time on June 3, 2018. Since then Bicycle Day is celebrated every year in the world. This time we are celebrating the 6th World Bicycle Day. The United Nations had announced to celebrate World Bicycle Day to promote it as a common, cheap, reliable, clean and environment-friendly means of transport. Two hundred years ago, on June 12, 1817, Baron Karl von Drais introduced the world’s first bicycle in Mannheim, Germany. It was made of wood and had no pedals, gears or chains. He pushed himself first with one leg and then with the other. He called it the Laufmaschine (running machine in German). Now in Japan’s Fukuoka city, students have made a bicycle that runs on air. Its maximum speed is 64 kilometers per hour. The Guinness Book of World Records has certified it as the fastest bicycle in the world powered by compressed air.
Bicycle has played a very important role in the economic progress of India. Cycles have been an essential part of the transport system in the country since independence. Especially from 1960 to 1990, most families in India had a bicycle. It was the most powerful and economical means of personal transport. In the villages, farmers used to take vegetables and other crops to the weekly mandis by bicycle. The supply of milk used to be done from villages to nearby town markets only through cycles. The entire system of the postal department used to run on cycles. Even today postmen deliver letters by bicycle. Even today, after China, India is the largest producer of bicycles in the world.
Children first learn to ride a bicycle. That’s why we all have cycled in our childhood. In earlier times, one who had a bicycle was considered a very prestigious person. The people of the village used to go to the cities every now and then. Then he used to see people riding a bicycle and then he himself slowly learned to ride a bicycle. Earlier, bicycles were also available on rent in the cities. The young generation of the country is now liking motorcycles more than cycles.
In the eighties, the craze for motorcycles was growing in the cities. Change had already started in the villages as well. Despite this, the importance of bicycle has not ended in India. Sales of bicycles have increased since the 1990s. But its sales have declined in rural areas. In fact, before 1990, the role played by the bicycle. Motorcycle has taken its place in the villages. Even after this, cycles are still an integral part of our lives.
During the lockdown in the country, lakhs of people who went to earn in other states reached their homes by covering a distance of 1000-1500 kilometers on cycles. During the crisis, the bicycle became the only means of reaching his house. Due to becoming the most useful means of reaching the homes of lakhs of people during the lockdown, it was well understood by the people that the bicycle is still the cheapest and most accessible means of transportation for the common people.
Now expensive gear equipped cycles with different types of features have come in the market. Earlier people used to have only normal cycles. Behind whom there was a career. On which a person used to keep his belongings and when needed, he used to make another person sit. Many times the cyclists used to ride with 3-3 people by making their partner sit on the pole in front. There was no pollution in the environment by bicycle. There was no hassle of filling petrol. Picked up the bicycle, pedaled and reached the next place. In earlier times, a small light was also used in front of the cycle. Whose dynuma was attached to the rear tyre. The faster the cyclist cycled, the brighter the lights were.
Three years ago, on the day of World Cycle Day, India’s largest cycle manufacturer company Atlas was shut down. The closure of India’s largest and world’s renowned company Atlas, which produces 40 lakh cycles every year, has given a big blow to the cycle industry. Due to the closure of the Atlas factory, about one thousand people working there became unemployed. The Atlas Cycle Company was established in 1951. It had tie-up with many foreign bicycle manufacturing companies. Due to which the cycle of Atlas Company was counted among the best cycles in the world. Atlas bicycles were also sold in large department stores in America.
Most of the basic modern structures being developed in India are being built to facilitate motor vehicles only. Environment-friendly vehicles like cycles are being neglected. Whereas bicycle has an important place in urban and rural transport. Especially for people of low income group, bicycle is a cheap, accessible and essential means of earning their livelihood. This is also because the low-income people of India are not able to spend Rs 100-500 per day on transport from their earnings.
The Government of India can motivate common and special people to cycle by making some necessary fundamental improvements in its bicycle transport system. All such people can get inspiration from this step of the government. Whose average traffic distance per day sits around five-seven kilometers. Many state governments of our country are distributing cycles in large numbers to their school students. This has increased the number of cyclists. According to The Energy and Research Institute, the number of cyclists in rural areas has increased from 43 percent to 46 percent in the last decade. While in urban areas this number has come down from 46 per cent to 42 per cent. The main reason for this has been found to be unsafe for bicycle riding.
Now the time has come to encourage cycling on a large scale in the cities and villages. So that the increasing pollution can be stopped to some extent. Dedicated cycle lanes should be built in cities. We should not see World Cycle Day as just a symbolic exercise. On this day, we should take a resolution in our mind that we will complete our daily work by bicycle. Only then will celebrating Cycle Day be truly successful.
Due to increasing pollution, cycling is being promoted in many countries of the world. Only cycling is allowed in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Safe cycle lanes have also been constructed in India in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh. Asia’s longest cycle highway of 200 km length has also been built in Uttar Pradesh. At present, there is a strong need to develop cycle roads in proportion to the number of cyclists in the country. If seen from the point of view of environmental protection, the return of bicycle in the countries of the world can be considered as an auspicious sign from the point of view of environment.
(The author is associated with Hindusthan Samachar.)
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