Sathya Sankaran Computer Science Graduate has been appointed the new Bicycle Mayor in Bangalore. An avid cyclist and civic activist, he has worked on building a cycling community in the city by organizing campaigns such as Cycle Day and policy interventions like Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority and Non-Motorised Transport policy. Making office commutes of up to 40 km by bicycle across the city and recreational cycling on the weekends, Sankaran wishes to extend this love for cycling to more people and has been working towards a sustainable vision for Bengaluru, campaigning for solutions around Urban Planning, Urban Governance, Non-Motorised Transport & Public Transport.
Several environmentalists have said that a major share of Bengaluru’s air pollution is caused by vehicular traffic. The pandemic saw the streets of this busy metropolitan empty and the pollution lower than ever. Shankaran believes this situation presents a unique opportunity for creating another ‘new normal’ in the post-pandemic world. In one interview with BYCS, Shakaran states his mission is “to invert the mobility pyramid and achieve a critical mass of people cycling and walking.” In the wake of a global climate crisis, it becomes imperative to overturn the man-made disaster of the congestion-pollution complex. This is possible only by a reduction in demand for motor vehicles by the people.
The main obstacle in reaching this goal is the requirement for a complete shift in attitudes. People tend to think that cars stand for economic and developmental superiority and cycles, without their complex airbag systems, are a safety hazard for the rider. However, Shankaran explains that in reality, the number of vehicles are the real safety hazard to both cyclists and the environment. Infrastructure to support this requires political action and the cycling community needs to come together if we wish to change the scenario.
Apart from the obvious environmental and climatic benefits of cycling, the physical activity has several health benefits for an individual as well such as:
- increased cardiovascular fitness
- increased muscle strength and flexibility
- improved joint mobility
- decreased stress and anxiety levels
- improved posture and coordination
- strengthened bones
- decreased body fat levels
Shankaran hopes to make cycling a familiar, comfortable and fun mode that is accessible to all and popularise it in this way. He envisions urban cities like Bangalore to become green open spaces with walking, cycling and public transport more common than traffic cramped streets with private vehicles and invites all of us to join him in this mission.