Guwahati: Fourteen-year-old MTB enthusiast Malav Dutta was appointed as the first Junior Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati on the occasion of World Bicycle Day on June 3. He was selected from among a set of five young people who had applied for the position.
With his selection, Malav becomes the third Junior Bicycle Mayor in India. The first one is a boy from Valsad in Gujarat and the second is a girl from Trivandrum in Kerala who was also selected on June 3 this year.
Globally, two other cities have Junior Bicycle Mayors – Amsterdam and Dublin.
Malav is a student of Capital Metropolitan English High School, Zoo Tiniali. The MTB enthusiast has been practising for the past couple of years. He also won two medals at the 16th National Mountain Biking Championship held at Haldwani, Uttarakhand earlier this year. He is also a regular participant in various other cycling events like rallies and rides across the city.
Malav said that he wants to encourage youngsters to take up mountain biking as a sport. He also wants to encourage more people to use cycling as a mode of transport so that the pollution levels are reduced and people remain fit. He also wants the city to be a safe place for cycling.
The programme has been initiated by the Amsterdam-based social enterprise BYCS (pronounced bikes) who had earlier appointed the first Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati — Arshel Akhter — in 2018.
In Guwahati, the programme was implemented under the support and guidance of Pedal For Change – an NGO working towards the promotion of cycling and cyclists in the region. The NGO was founded in 2019 by Pratibhu Dutta, Bikash Doley and Arshel Akhter.
BYCS appoints Bicycle Mayors for advocating cycling as a mode of sustainable urban transport. The Junior Bicycle Mayor programme is designed to encourage youngsters to take up cycling and prepare them for future leadership roles in this area.
Malav will be guided and supported by Akhter to promote cycling and will also be the voice for making the city safe for children.
Apart from the selection of Malav, Akhter collaborated with the other 40 Bicycle Mayors in India to organise a virtual musical concert with the support of DJ Vispi. This virtual event was a culmination of a month-long activation programme where people from all across the country were asked to share their photos with their cycles and family to celebrate this year’s World Bicycle Day.