For various purposes, human beings have to travel over long, medium or short distances & choose the appropriate modes of conveyance accordingly. Across seas, long distances or unfriendly terrain, one has to choose aero plane, ship or train as per the situation. For shorter distances, we may use lighter vehicles, SUV or car or two wheelers. But very few people would like to think of a bi-cycle for this purpose. If we are using a bi-cycle for conveyance, some persons may think that we are financially not well off. This is because a large number of persons cannot afford any vehicle other than a bi-cycle. It is also considered difficult to pedal and proceed on the roads everywhere, due to the high density of the traffic & sometimes adverse road and weather conditions.
During my several visits to USA & Europe, I found that bi-cycle is used there purposely due to several reasons. (a) It is generally used for short distances and also for morning exercise. (b) It is not at all considered as a poor man’s vehicle, since even rich persons own it, may be more than one. (c)There are separate tracks on side lanes of the main roads, where cyclists can drive safely. Also the condition of the roads is very good and it is a pleasure to use the cycle. (d) The children are also encouraged to use the bi-cycle. (e) Many persons are seen pedaling all the way up to some garden etc. and then going in for walking in the garden. The use of a cycle is therefore very good from the point of our health. Even if a person owns car(s), he or she may use cycles (and also walking) for keeping healthy & fit. Cycling improves our health and prevents some diseases, since cycling is a good exercise. It is also being used to go to another colony for paying a visit to the friends/relatives etc. (f) One more benefit of using a cycle is saving on fuel, thus reducing pollution & improving environment. Use of cycles is especially recommended in a spacious organization having a big campus, like a University, where a pool of cycles can be maintained at a central place, which can be used by others as per their needs. (g) The cycle being light can be lifted, turned over and direction changed easily. It can be taken on unfriendly terrain & narrow lanes/paths etc. (h) Its initial costs, as well as maintenance costs are very low. (i) A bi-cycle ride gives enormous pleasure and other benefits. (j) During our cycle travel, we are likely to meet more friends for mutual happiness and benefit. (k) Since the normal speeds of driving are very less, it can be controlled in a much safer way and chances of accidents are less, with normal precautions. (l) When we use a cycle, we get a blast of air on our body and it gives a feeling of happiness, pleasure, relaxation & being free from stress. (m) Cycles are also used for spreading some messages to the public, by the Government & some of the social organizations. (n) Special cycles are also being used for racing purposes including slow cycle race.
In spite of points like inadequate protection in rains or sun, inability to take more passengers and luggage, more time required for travels due to limitations of speed etc., use of a bi-cycle is still recommended on account of many positive points, some of which have been given above. However, we must take note of a few points like using helmets, carrying out regular maintenance of the cycle including proper brakes, correct air pressure in the tyres, using normal safety measures while using the cycle with the normal traffic on the roads. In view of its many advantages, the Government and the social organizations should encourage its use actively, including for conveying messages to the communities.
Compiled and presented by vijaiksharma, as a result of discussions in the meetings with Saturday Group Members Dr. L K Kothari, Mr. Surendra Bothara, Dr. S Nyati, Mr. S Gemawat and Mr. Vijai K Sharma at Jaipur.