The idea for ‘Save a Cyclist’ came to me one day when I almost hit a cyclist at night from behind, on the stretch of road from Galleria to HUDA city centre. I was wondering how cyclists can be more visible and realized that if they had blinking safety lights on them, they would be more visible to car drivers. One thing led to another and a friend and I decided to form ‘Save a Cyclist’.
Who all people or groups are supporting this cause, and are engaged?
Currently, it’s mostly friends and family who have chipped in with funds and time to distribute lights. Firefox Bikes also gave us a discount of 20% for the first batch of 50 lights. In addition, the 'I Am Gurgaon' team also provided their support and engagement along with publicity on their Facebook platform.
In what ways are you trying to protect the 'rights of a cyclist'?
The initiative is just a few months-old and is still evolving. Our primary aim at the moment is to create awareness about how a small device can make life safer for cyclists (as well as car drivers). We have also had a very brief discussion with the NMT Coalition (a group which is advocating the use of Non Motorized Transport in Gurgaon) and hope to highlight the issues and rights of cyclists along with the benefits of cycling for a larger section of the population in Gurgaon.
How are you spreading awareness about your 'Save A Cyclist' campaign?
Again, we initially spread the word among friends and family who further spread it among their social networks. We also a have a website (http://saveacyclist.in/) and have been promoting this initiative online via social media.
What are your primary objectives, say for the next five years, in relation to creating a more amenable environment for cyclists in Gurgaon?
Five years is a very long time and it’s a bit too early to think about that. That said, our primary objective in the short term is to create awareness about these safety lights so that everybody can buy a few lights and distribute them among their maids, drivers, office peons etc. Over a period of time, we also aim to launch a 'Be A Cyclist' initiative and get more people from affluent sections of society to start using bicycles. We also want to launch a campaign to sensitize vehicle drivers to respect the safety of cyclists. In addition, we aim to petition the civic authorities to make more conducive arrangements for cycling in the city.
So far, do you feel encouraged that authorities will respond or are responding to support safe cycling?
We haven't really approached the authorities for this initiative, as we aren't sure how they can support 'Save a Cyclist' at the moment. However, DCP Traffic Police, Mr Maheshwar Dayal was very supportive of the idea and we are working on a proposal to jointly work with the Gurgaon Traffic Police to make cycling safer.
What are the issues in Gurgaon that need to be taken care of to make people take up cycling - at least in their neighbourhood?
I think there are a couple of issues due to which people haven't taken up cycling. The first is of civic sense, which is appalling in Gurgaon. Most car drivers treat cyclists almost as 'third class citizens' or at best, an irritants on the road. This compromises the safety of cyclists due to which people are hesitant to take up cycling. The second is the condition of most roads which makes cycling, a bone jarring experience. Also, in the summer, the weather plays spoilsport as it’s too hot to paddle.
Nonetheless, while the affluent drive around in air conditioned cars, there is a large section of people who use it as their primary mode of transport. We just need to recognize and respect them a bit more.
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