Cycling to work, to save Earth - Fighting fumes

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By ANIL BUDUR LULLA IN BANGALORE in Heiligendamm
  • Published 1.07.07
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The global warming bug appears to have bitten Rohan Kini and Nikhil Eldurkar, too.

No, the software engineers haven’t replaced carpets in their homes with green ones a la IIFA nor have they been trumpeting their concern for the environment in the manner of Shilpa Shetty or the Bachchans.

But in their quiet little way, they have been warring against the noxious fumes that recently held sway at Heiligendamm: by cycling, and not cruising in sleek four-wheeled beauties, to office.

“Cycling gives me a high that I cannot explain,” gushes 26-year-old Rohan, who cycles 12km to his Airport Road office every day. Nikhil does 17km one way, and gets to his Marath Halli destination in less than an hour.

Part of their enthusiasm could be to duck the maddening traffic snarls in the city centre — Rohan saves a cool 30 minutes by slipping in and out of the unending line-up of vehicles that perpetually stand bumper to bumper.

Part of it could also be for the health benefits the daily exercise brings. So much so, that the duo have even floated a website — www.bumsonthesaddle.com — to build a cycling community.

But it’s environment that is on top of their minds. “We are conscious about the environment. It (cycling) makes more sense than to get stuck in jams. The only problem is there are no separate cycle parking lots in office and I am forced to tie it to the generator,” says Rohan.

There are other problems, too: for instance, the dust and suspended particulate matter that soil the clothes.

Many belonging to Rohan and Nikhil’s tribe are, nevertheless, seen pedalling at a fast clip in office wear, full with helmets and pollution masks. But Nikhil carries a change of clothes and Rohan wears a wind-cheater.

Bharat Kumar, a college student, says rash car drivers are a bigger nuisance for cyclists. “We get driven off the roads often. But we are much safer on a bicycle than a motorcycle,” he says.

Bharat has been cajoling his friends and classmates to junk their motorbikes and go for the cycle. “I have convinced five classmates so far, including a girl who pedals 6km a day.”

There are some foreigners who have taken to cycling, too, both for business and pleasure. Frenchman Jean-Philipe Lestang, who works for a drinking water project, is one such.

Every Sunday, Lestang and a couple of his expat friends, including their school-going children, cycle a distance of 90km at awesome speeds.

“He has just gone back to Paris. So we are not doing this circuit every week like before. But we continue to cycle 5km to work at least twice a week, and explore the countryside on weekends,” says Jean Pierre, another Frenchman.

Irishman Phil Collins and wife Anna have also joined the tribe. “We are afraid to cycle in the city. So we take our bikes to Nandi Hills Road in our SUV and cycle on that stretch for fun,” Phil says.

No matter what their reasons, all are agreed on one point: “Cycling is not just environment-friendly, it helps maintain good health, too.”