The next time you go to work or to meet your friends, it might be a good idea to use cycle as a mode of transportation. According to a report published by the think-tank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), if, at a wide scale, we adopt cycle as the only mode of transport, India can save over Rs 1.8 lakh crore ($255 billion) annually, or 1.6% of the GDP.
The study states that, “Increasing motorization in urban and rural areas has given rise to many negative externalities such as dependence on fossil fuels, GHG emissions, congestion, pollution and the associated health impacts. In order to minimize the costs associated with these externalities, the current and future projected travel demand needs to be served by sustainable modes of transportation like cycling”.
Analysing the mode of transport used by Indians to travel to work, the study reported that ” It is observed that more than 50% of the people in India use non-motorized forms of transport, such as walking and cycling, to travel to work followed by two-wheelers (18%) and buses (16%). In urban and rural India, on-foot trips account for the highest share of work trips with the share being 12% higher in rural areas. In rural areas, for meeting the daily travel requirements, workers are most dependent on cycling after walking. However, in urban areas, after walking workers are most dependent on two-wheelers.”
Despite being an eco-friendly and a sustainable mode of transportation, cycles have disappeared from roads over time. The study also listed out the direct and indirect benefits of cycling. Apart from indirect benefits like reduction in carbon emissions and a positive impact on savings and GDP, it stated, “The benefits that directly accrue to individuals due to the uptake of cycling are defined as direct benefits. In the study, personal fuel savings, health benefits due to increased physical activity, reduced air pollution, and travel-time savings by marginal unskilled workers
In a bid to encourage cycling to work in India, the study suggested “To promote the widespread use of bicycles, dedicated initiatives such as tax concessions for low-income individuals, construction of adequate and safe cycling infrastructure, and measures to reduce the use of private vehicles such as congestion and parking pricing and
awareness campaigns to highlight the benefits of cycling need to be undertaken. These measures should be implemented to retain the existing high share of cyclists and to motivate a shift among those who currently rely on private motor vehicles even for short distances.”