Whether its work,shopping or socialising,graphics designer Ashita Murgai prefers not to use her car and often commutes on the humble bicycle. Quick travel,no parking hassles and eco-friendly; whats not to like about cycling? asks the 37-year-old. She thought she was among the very few in Delhi who swear by the pedal,until she joined the Delhi Cycling Club. I discovered there were hundreds of people like me who prefer cycling to driving. Cycling with all of them is so much more fun, she says. When DCC celebrates its third anniversary in October,Murgai will take her nine-year-old son for the celebratory ride through some of central Delhis picturesque zones.
DCC started with a mission to make cycling fashionable among Delhis car-loving citizens. Instead,we found that people loved cycling and were looking for an excuse to get back to it. The membership has grown every month,in August this year we had 30 new entries, says Nalin Sinha,convenor and co-founder of DCC. Members across the NCR come together at least once a month for rides that range from heritage tours Old Delhi and Tughlaqabad to Lutyens Delhi to the Ridge to Nature rides to the Okhla Bird Sanctuary among others. As Pranay Nath Jha,a 25-year-old lawyer,says,At DCC,we dont just cycle,we also visit interesting places and meet a lot of new people.
The rides are scheduled early in the morning on weekends when the city roads are less populated with motor vehicles.
The group consists of techies,architects,scientists,publishing professionals,photographers,housewives and expats among others,with the youngest members still in junior school. Membership is free. Some members do not have their own cycles and we provide these for the rides,along with helmets and refreshments, says Sinha,37,a transport analyst with an NGO,who has splurged on a zany speed bike,similiar to the one used by cycling champion Lance Armstrong. DCC also educates new members on how to negotiate Delhi roads where the swankiest car always wants the right of way. A cyclist is safe if he keeps to the left and has his eyes and ears open for troublemakers, says Rajendra Verma,a DCC official,as Murgai adds that shes never faced any road rage as a woman biker.
DCC,which has had former cop Kiran Bedi join in for a spin around Chandni Chowk is working with the government to have a Delhi Cycling Day. In three years,cycling will become a big thing as youngsters turn to green living to protect the environment. It is encouraging that everybody who cycles with us once,keeps coming back for more. Even if 10 per cent of the people in Delhi take to cycling just once a week,it will reduce carbon dioxide emission levels drastically, says Sinha. Cyclists in various parts of the NCR have started forming their own smaller groups that meet every week. We now have 13 such sub-groups, says Nalin. More power to the pedal,we say!