The United Nations declared June 3 as World Bicycle Day to acknowledge the bicycle’s importance as a means of transport. Even as more people have embraced cycling in Kochi, it continues to be more a source of exercise or a leisure activity rather than serve a functional purpose as conveyance.
A factor is the absence of cyclist-friendly roads, which makes it an unsafe mode of transport during rush hour traffic on the city’s main roads. Aluva-based Mithradham Renewable Energy Centre seeks to change that. As part of World Bicycle Day celebrations, Mithradham has planned a cycling event pivoted around the 16.5-kilometre Pipeline Road that originates near the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) Pumping Station at Aluva and winds up near the Ernakulam South Railway Station, near the KWA Pumping Station.
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“Not many people know that such a road exists. We want to introduce people to this road, which can be converted into a ‘cycling priority’ road. This is 40 feet wide, and since it is a road which has pipelines, it is closed to heavy vehicles making it perfect for cyclists,” says Santosh Thanikkat, coordinator of Mithradham’s, which aims at making Kochi a cycling-friendly city. The stretch can be used by cyclists looking for safe roads to commute within the city. “There are more people out there cycling, but that is primarily for exercise. But how many are using bicycles to commute? A green track on the road is not enough. It has to be safe.”
Besides raising awareness about Pipeline Road road and cycling, the programme aims to mobilise support for the demand to make it a cycling priority road. “We are not asking that the road be made exclusively for cyclists, just that cyclists be given a priority while on it,” Santosh says. Besides discovering a new cycling path, participants are encouraged to find pocket roads connecting to this road. “Pipeline Road is between one and five kilometres from any road in the city and seven kilometres from Chittoor Road. It can be accessed easily!”
As part of World Bicycle Day programmes, allied events include theme-based competitions such as a design competition for architecture students to submit designs to beautify the stretch. It is being held in association with the Indian Institute of Architects.
A ‘cycling carnival’ will be held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kaloor, on June 4. For more information 9770820147