Promote cycling for maintaining social distancing: Bicycle enthusiasts to CM

Kolkata, Jun 3 (PTI) A group of bicycle enthusiasts has urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to promote cycling as a primary and safe mode of transport system particularly after COVID-19 outbreak.

In an open letter to the chief minister, they said, the outbreak of COVID-19 has presented unprecedented problems like the effectiveness of public transport systems in maintaining the requisite social distancing norms.

On the occasion of 'World Bicycle Day' on June 3, Sourav Chattopadhyay and Satanjib Gupta, members of Kolkata Cycle Samaj said, if a large section of people hop on to the saddle and pedal to their destinations, it will minimise traffic congestion, pollution and effectively enforce social distancing.

'With the Help of Our Humble #Bicycle We Can Reduce #TrafficCongestion, #Pollution & Cost of #Commuting While Ensuring #SocialDistancing with Good #Health,' Chattopadhyay said in a Facebook post.

Chattopadhyay said, 'We demand the ban on cycling along many of Kolkata roads needs to be lifted and provisional bicycle lanes/bays to be demarcated on major roads.' There should be more dedicated parking lots along with repair shops and other necessary infrastructure for the green mode of transport, he said.

Chattopadhyay and Gupta are 'Bicycle Mayors' of Kolkata and Howrah cities respectively - appointed by BYCS, an Amsterdam-based social enterprise.

'Leaders and city planners around the world, as well as bodies such as the World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, the United Nations ... have repeatedly highlighted the need to choose cycling as the alternative, primary mode of transport for restoring normalcy post lockdown,' the letter said, advocating drawing up similar plans for Kolkata, Howrah, and eventually the rest of West Bengal.

The letter also mentioned, 'Now is the time to give wings to the state's 'Sabuj Sathi' initiative, revamping it to its fullest glory and expanding its scope beyond the distribution of bicycles.' 'Sabuj Sathi' means students' companion. 'Sabuj', the Bengali word for 'green' also implies 'children' while 'sathi' means 'companion'.

Under this scheme launched in 2015, high school students in state-run schools are given bicycles free of cost so that they can go to schools.

Avid cyclists Shamik Dutta and Daniel Biswajyoti Maity have also narrated on the Facebook page of the 'Cycle Samaj' how they are cycling over 30 kms to reach their workplaces and feel fresh despite undergoing physical stress.

Office-goers are facing a harrowing time waiting for hours for a bus to go to work and return home.

The state government had on Saturday extended the lockdown till June 15, but allowed total attendance in micro, small, medium and large industries from June 1. PTI SUS MM MM