Cycle Days are catching up fast in every locality in Bengaluru. The Open Streets concept that the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) has brought in through these Cycle Days has been one of the best things that has happened to the city in recent times.
Yes, once upon a time when we were kids, the vehicular population in the city wasn’t so dense. We were able to play kunta bille, jootaata and other games on the streets. However, today we are not even able to cross the roads without a traffic signal or police intervention.Vehicles rule the roads, and pollution rules the atmosphere.
That is why these Open Streets Cycle Days are needed, to make people aware that roads are not only for people with cars or scooters — every citizen including a pedestrian and a cyclist also has a right of way.
As many as 27 communities in Bengaluru have reclaimed their streets with open street events and cycle days. Here is how you can bring in the Cycle Day to your locality in Bengaluru:
- You need a strong will to do it.
- An organisation, that does not have a personal agenda, apolitical, non-commercial, preferably a Resident Welfare Association (RWA), a group of sports enthusiasts in your locality – should be able to shoulder the responsibility. There should be good number of enthusiastic volunteers.
- Once the organisation is fixed, you will need to get in touch with the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT). They are the government body under Urban Development Department, responsible for conducting Cycle Days in the city.
- Cycle Days will have fixed rules, templates, terms and conditions. The Cycle Day will have to be conducted for minimum three months at a stretch.
- Identify a route for the cyclists and an area to be blocked for the Open Streets games to be conducted. This has to be a part of the cycling route, which is usually about 3 km.
- Chosen route, in the beginning, should be safe for children to cycle on, with not too many ups and downs, not too many crossings to be manned.
- The road to be blocked should not be an arterial road and people have an alternate road to take. The DULT co-ordinators will come and examine it and apply for police permissions for the entire route. This will involve the traffic and Law and Order police. The police permissions are granted for three months.
This is the basic setup, now you start looking at how to conduct it. What are the expenses involved ? Who can be the sponsors ?
- You can conduct a low budget Cycle Day without any frills. We have done it at Malleshwaram and have been appreciated by the DULT.
- Major expenses will be: Cycle Rentals (this is generally sponsored by DULT), sound system, mikes for announcements, breakfast arrangements for the volunteers and police, some games for the children to play like skipping, ball, tennicoit etc. Some of the traditional games like chouka-bara, aliguli mane etc can be rented from Kavade, a collective in Sheshadripuram, Bengaluru.
- Volunteers must man the route along with the police, and help out with the games. A dedicated group of about 15 volunteers needed.
- You can introduce many other things, based on the expertise and bandwidth available. Example: Segregation / composting demos, origami workshops, storytelling, tug of war, street dance, songs, facepainting for kids, pottery and any other imaginable activity which will add to the fun and fits the concept of sustainability.
- Don’t try to combine any of your other big events with the Cycle Day. Let it be a pure cycling and Open Streets experience that the children, elders and senior citizens will equally enjoy.
If you are in another city other than Bengaluru, the procedures will be the same, but instead of DULT there will be another body or a government department related to Urban Development and transport planning in the city.
As the National Urban Transport Policy -2014 released by the Union government also advocates more road space for pedestrians and cyclists, all cities in India will be a part of this movement. Come, be a part of this sustainability movement, the fun way!