We Love the Unfashionable Bicycle!

This post is an appeal to my fellow Indians to start viewing things in perspective. It’s a foolish idea, I know, since people are so deeply rooted in the views that have been propagated to them, that they begin to feel that they are actually their views.

I’m defending the humble Indian cycle, which has been much maligned by people and which, I may add, I have the honor of referring to as my prime mode of transport.

I have seen all sorts of attitudes towards my choice of steed. I have seen disbelief, quizzical glances, downright disgust, amused tolerance, disrespect, and every once in a while, be it ever so rare, admiration.

I believe the prevailing social norm in India, is that the bicycle is meant only for teenagers, and the lower class. I see no self respecting manager of a company, or a not so self respecting brash youth eager to prove himself a man, making the cycle as their prime mode of transport.

It is during moments of contemplation, when these undeniable facts present themselves to me clearly, that I shake my head in disbelief at the commonly held supposition that Man is a rational animal. I won’t go into the benefits of cycling in this post. They are far too obvious to me, and indeed, to anyone who thinks logically. If you want a good breakdown, read about the benefits of cycling in this article.

But perhaps I’m being too judgmental. Live and let live is what I say. So I have no grudge against those who use a motorized vehicle, beyond the rather obvious fact that they pollute, make a terrible noise, and in some cases, use up so much road space per user, that pathways in major cities are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate through.

However, I do wish that people would apply the same principal to me, harmless as I am. All over India, I encounter active prejudice against the most friendly mode of transport ever devised. And I’m not just talking about the way people look at you.

In almost all parking lots, prime space goes to huge cars, and the space filters down to motor bikes, until only at the very end, if you’re lucky, you find a place to park your cycle. And in all cases, cyclists are forced to park in the sun, in a dilapidated parking lot that seems to say ‘Here lie all the unworthy and unwanted items known to man’. Even the parking attendants are frequently rude to cyclists, while they bow obsequiously to the huge Mercedes close by.

I feel a just wrath, as I view the shabby treatment meted out to cycles by people who look at self worth only as a function of what society deems is important. These same people have visions of one day owning a car themselves, and being bowed to by other Parking attendants, and so it propagates. People who are unable to think for themselves.Policeman on a Bicycle

The rest of the world has long woken up, and has recognized the benefits of the cycle. They plan entire cities taking into consideration the fact that they need to make it bicycle friendly. There, the cycle is an accepted mode of transport and there is no shame in using it.

The picture that you see, is of a policeman riding a cycle in an obviously cycle conscious society. And he looks so cool! In India, only the lowest of the police force ride a cycle.

Now my readers mustn’t mistake me. I love my country, and I would not leave it. I guess that countries, just like people, are childish at first, and then mature as time goes by. I know this will happen sooner or later (but probably not in my life time) in India. But it is frustrating to see it happen! It’s just something that we conscious cycle riders have to learn to deal with. We’re setting an example, and that requires guts. Go Cycles!

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  1. Cycle India says

    Cycling in India is great!


  2. we love biking too – http://bumsonthesaddle.com :)


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