Guwahati: In an initiative started by city-based NGO ‘Pedal for a Change’, around 100 cyclists rode to Shilpgram from four different places of Guwahati in Assam to mark World Bicycle Day on Monday.
The event was inaugurated by Siddhartha Bhattacharya, minister of law and order, education and Guwahati development department, Assam. Bhattacharya said that he is himself a cycle enthusiast, so much so that as a kid, he was punished for giving more time to it than studying.
This was followed by a speech by Pune cyclist Rachit Kulshrestha (32), who spoke about his journey of being a one-armed cyclist and beating cancer twice. Kulshrestha lost his left hand to cancer at the age of five years, and then developed a foot abnormality at 27, when he was diagnosed with cancer again.
The event saw panel discussions on ‘How to make Guwahati more cycling friendly’ with joint secretary, Guwahati Development Department, Paul Baruah; executive director of WRI Amit Bhatt and Karma Paljor, editor-in-chief of EastMojo, taking part.
The conclave saw another discussion by ATDC officials and a few others from the tourism industry talking about ‘How can cycling be used to promote tourism’. In the last session, people from the sports department, Sports Authority of India (SAI), eminent sports person and a well-known sports entrepreneur from Pune, Divya Tate, took part in the discussion about ‘how to improve cycling as a sport’.
Speaking with EastMojo, minister Bhattacharya said, “I will request everybody to take up cycling. It’s not only an very inexpensive way of keeping somebody fit, but it also helps in reducing the carbon footprints that we are putting up all over the world.” Giving example of the cycling culture in European countries, and in eminent institutions like IITs, where moving around the campus happens on bicycle, he said this should get extended to the public elsewhere as well.
Encouraging the activity, ‘Pedal for a Change’ co-founder Pratibhu Dutta said, “For me cycling is a passion, actually for everybody cycling is a passion. Keep your passion alive, keep cycling, keep cycling, keep cycling, keep pedaling, and rest of the things will ultimately keep [fall] in place.”
After the conclave, other activities like bicycle stunt show, cycling movies, fun and game activities, and a live music show were organised.
Through such activities and dialogues, Pedal for a Change aspires to see some policy-level discussions regarding creation or implementation of impactful, environmental protection measures.