Considering Mumbai’s narrow congested roads, space-starved highways and depleting open spaces, any scope for outdoor activities in a green oasis is considered a bliss. So cycling in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, one of the city’s few pristine green lungs, is a very popular sport for locals as well as tourists.
However, a limited number of cycles, bad maintenance and lack of dedicated cycling tracks often put a dampener on the overall experience.
Inside the national park, tourists and revellers can rent bicycles keeping a deposit of Rs 300 for a minimum of two hours at Rs 60.
Although all cycles are branded ‘sturdy bikes’, most are worn out, overused, making them wobbly and rough.
“I was riding one cycle when the chain came out. Had to stop, fix it and get it back to the stand,” said 12-year-old Tanmay Joshi who was visiting the national park with his family on a picnic on Saturday.
He said many cycles don’t even have a stand.
By noon, most bicycles that are the best of the lot are usually already rented out, leaving just five to seven on the stand.
“We have more than 60 cycles totally, but the demand for cycling is far more so most are already rented out by afternoon on weekends,” said the employee in charge of keeping a record of the rented cycles.
Regarding the condition of the cycles, the employee who did not wish to be named said, “People need to use the cycles carefully too. They ride the way they like and that’s how our cycles get too old too fast.”
None of the cycles have a lock, so tourists can never combine cycling with short treks inside the forest, as they cannot leave their cycle unattended.
Moreover, lack of dedicated cycling lanes and signage for cyclists also makes it a bit tough to manoeuvre the bicycle inside the national park’s narrow roads, where national park buses, private vehicles and motorcycles also ply.