Pollution in Ranchi is caused mostly by high concentration of motor vehicles, not industries, and cycling can be a sustainable mode of transportation that can help check the dirty air menace to a large extent, feels the city’s first “cycle mayor”.
Kanishka Poddar, 36, was recently appointed as the first cycle mayor of Ranchi by Amsterdam-based BYCS, a social enterprise that feels cycling can transform cities and thereby the world and works for initiating breakthrough ideas around cycling.
“We discussed this at cycle mayors’ summit, an international meet that began in Bangalore on Monday,” he said over the phone, adding he also got the mayor's batch from Heine Lageveen, deputy consul general of Netherlands, there that day.
BYCS aims at achieving “50 by 30” — meaning 50 per cent of all city trips should be by bicycle by the year 2030.
“Cycle mayors work for accelerating cities' approach towards cycling adoption and creating sustainable, cycle-friendly infrastructure,” Poddar said when asked about the job of cycle mayors, 29 of whom are in India.
This can be possible by educating people to take up cycling as a part of their daily life, making roads safer for cyclists and providing enough parking space for bicycles, Poddar said.
Inadequate cycling infrastructure like lanes etc, lack of education on safety of cyclists and no focused approach by government are main obstacles, Poddar, who has been on cycle trips across the country and abroad, said when asked about bottlenecks.
“It will be a three-pronged approach,” the entrepreneur-cyclist, who attended an executive management programme at IIM Ranchi in 2013, said when asked how he planned to go about his task.
Promoting cycling, he said, can be done by reuniting and connecting local cycling community, organising events regularly to educate people to pick up cycling and respect cyclists, and reaching out to local authorities for providing parking spaces and facilitating cycling.
“Cycling will not only reduce pollution but will also make people healthy,” Poddar said when reminded that a recent study pointed out that pollution cut short lifespan of every resident of Jharkhand by 4.4 years on average.