Thursday, April 29, 2010


Cycle is a poor man’s transport, hobby of rich man and
medical activity for the old.

Photo credit:

In most of the cases, a child life starts with a cycle, two wheeled & tri – wheeled irrespective of his/her status of being from a rich, middle or poor family , hence, it may be mentioned that the cycling activity starts in the beginning of childhood and it becomes a sport at 10-12 years of age.

Cycling as a sports was introduced in India with the efforts of Sh. Janki Das in mid thirties. It found its International level when Sh. Janki Das, the lone Indian Cyclist participated in the British Empire Games at Sydney (Australia) in 1938 with Swami Jagan Nath accompanied as Manager.

With the pioneering of these two, Indian Cycling was to secure affiliation of National Cycling Federation to the National Cyclists Union of England. A few years later, another stalwart Sh. Sohrab H. Bhoot of Bombay & Sh. Janki Dass joined hands in furtherance of cycling sports & formed the National Cyclists Federation of India in 1946 & secure affiliation of this new body with Union Cyclists International (UCI). The same year, Indian Cycling Team participated in World Cycling Championships held in Switzerland. Thereafter, Indian cycling teams participated in London Olympics in 1948 & World Cycling Championships at Amsterdam in 1946 & Brussels in 1949.
Cycling was one of the sports in 1st Asian Games held at National Stadium, New Delhi in 1951

The first facility for cycling sports appeared in the form of a concrete track in National Stadium, New Delhi which was built around an athletic track in 1951 for 1st Asian Games with a maximum elevation of 27 degree on the curves & a length of 466 mtr.

Extracted from the website of Cyling federation of India

Delhi by cycle

Cycling is an amazing way of exploring a city !!
Delhi has an organised cycle tour on bicycle , which is an amazing initiative just recently started in Decemeber 2009. I somehow find the fee for the tour a bit too much.

Creating a set up for guided tour of the old walled city of Ahmedabad has also been one of our design opportunities for the cycle systems project. In this regard, I had a meeting with Mr. Debashish Nayak , the founder of the Cruta Foundation to first start Heriatge walk in Calcutta and then in Ahmedabad in 1997. When I proposed a Heritage ride of Ahmedabad he was excited to know about this and agreed on lending all the possible help for making this project a reality.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

People's Way: Urban Mobility in Ahmedabad by Meena Kadri on The Design Observer

Photos by Meena Kadri

People's Way: Urban Mobility in Ahmedabad

It's been more than a generation since the Brazilian city of Curitiba pioneered Bus Rapid Transit. Since then this cost-effective and flexible transit system — which repurposes existing roadways into bus routes rather than constructing capital-intensive new railways — has become a worldwide model for urban mobility in both affluent and developing nations. A new addition to the BRT network was recently launched in India. Last year the northwestern city of Ahmedabad opened the first phase of the Janmarg — the People's Way. Though still in its infancy, the system has already attracted favorable attention: early this year the U.S.-based Institute for Transportation & Development Policy awarded Janmarg its Sustainable Transport Award.......

Focusing on socio-economic needs, the planners developed priorities: to provide poorer citizens good access to employment and education centers; to create a multimodal system of main and feeder lines that would serve both densely settled districts and more dispersed areas; and to safely accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. “We devised routes based on connections to key railway stations, industrial estates, recreational areas and colleges, with the goal of providing access for all Ahmedabadis," recounts Swamy. "We approached NGO’s for their guidance on access and inclusivity for the disabled and disadvantaged.” Swamy notes that the proposed 55-mile BRT network was organized to integrate with conventional buses and rail lines and also with automobiles, so citizens could use the different modes for various legs of intercity journeys. The planners also incorporated cycle lanes and footpaths — far from ubiquitous in India — and these have been extensively landscaped to provide shade. "We opted for full BRT mode, including predominantly dedicated corridors for buses, rather than mixed-use lanes, as in some cities," says Swamy. "Dedicated lanes are the key to making a bus system smooth and speedy — a real alternative to private vehicles."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bicycle renting at Delhi Metro Stations

Delhi Metro Extends its Bicycle Rental Facility to Pragati Maidan, Patel Chowk and Indraprastha Metro Stations

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation today extended its 'rent a bicycle' initiative already available at the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station, to the Pragati Maidan, Patel Chowk and Indraprastha Metro stations on 5th February 2009.

While the bicycle rental facility is mainly catering to the needs of the students at the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station, the facility at the Pragati Maidan, Patel Chowk and Indraprastha stations is expected to help the tourists and the office goers who work in offices situated at short distances from these Metro stations.

Each of these Metro stations will have ten bicycles available on rent. There will be six cycles for gents and four cycles for ladies. A nominal amount of rupees ten will be charged for using the cycles for a minimum of four hours. The same amount is being charged at the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station also.

The commuters will have to provide a photo identity proof for availing the facility. All the rules and regulations related to the service will be put on display at all the Metro cycle stands.

DMRC had started this eco-friendly initiative with only seven bicycles at the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station in October 2007, which has increased to 25. On an average, about 50 to 60 people are availing this facility everyday now at the Vishwavidyalaya station.

The facility may be extended further to other Metro stations also depending upon the potential for such a scheme in other areas. The concept of renting out bicycles is already very popular in many countries abroad, but is being tried for the first time in India.

DMRC encourages the use of bicycles by commuters as it is an eco - friendly mode of transport. All the parking slots of DMRC have space allotted for the parking of bicycles and smart card holders of Delhi Metro can park their bicycles free of cost at the parking slots, while others will have to pay a nominal amount of Rupees two for parking their own bicycles at the stations.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Information Design Workshop April 2010 at NID conducted by Andreas Schnider and Rupesh Vyas

Participants of the workshop
From left: Andreas Schnider, Brajendra Nandan Panda, Wanda Proft, Sebastian Muller, Shwetal Khaire, Gunveen Kaur, Poorva Kelkar, Reiko Yamagucchi, Takashi Kondo, Shipra Singh, Benjamin, C. Subash and Ankit Vyas
Discussions during one of the sessions in Product Design studio

The Japanese students from IAMAS, Ogaki

A one week workshop was conducted during 5th april to 10th april 2010 on Information Design with students from IAMAS, Japan and Berlin, Germany. It was guided by Prof. Andreas Schnider, Institute of Information Design, Japan and the Information Design faculty at NID, Prof. Rupesh Vyas. The students of Product Design who are working on their Systems Design course were the host students for the workshop and the main aim of the workshop was to come up with visual presentations for the research work which we had been doing from 3 months now. The presentations were prepared with the intention of showing them to higher authorities/stake holders of that system.

The ReDiscover Bicycle team had a chance to work with Wanda Proft (Visual communication Designer, Berlin) , Takashi Kondo (Interaction Designer, Ogaki Japan), and Reiko Yamagucchi (Architect, Ogaki, Japan). They helped us in presenting the field work and the research work in a handout format like a map which can distributed as a guide to the volunteers who wish to promote cycling in Ahmedabad.

Friday, April 9, 2010

ReDiscover Bicycle : Where it started?

ReDiscover Bicycle,a movement which is now far more then just a course.Frankly speaking the course was just taken as an opportunity to start with the idea awaiting long in my mind.So from where does this idea generated?It all came to me while attending a 5 weeks workshop on "Auroville:Creating Bicycle Friendly
in Auroville, 150 kms from Chennai and 10 kms from Pondicherry ( workshop was centered in creating a bicycle friendly environment thus demotivating the use of motorized transport which does not go along with the environment of auroville.
The workshop as a whole was focused on different area of development w.r.t bicycling.The basic outline of the project were:

Workshop Outline
• Each participant will work in one of the five mini-projects (tentatively: pathways,shelters, lighting, signage and accessories) within the overall theme.
• Each mini-project will have a small team of 3-4 people from different backgroundsand will be mentored by a senior Auroville expert.
• The collaborative design process, research techniques and decisions making will befacilitated through out the workshop by an expert.
• Teams will be provided space with Internet facilities at the mentors business unit.
• A series of plenary sessions, talks and videos will be scheduled throughout theprogram for sharing of results and experiences.
• The resulting concepts will be demonstrated by building prototypes.
• Participants and mentors are free to publish and show case the results in the publicdomain free of restrictions.

As the outcome of the workshop, a small stretch of bicycle path will be constructedand show cased with prototypes:
1. Bicycle shelter and stand
2. Bicycle path andentry barrier
3. Signage
4. Lighting
5. Bags, bike wear etc.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Arivoli Iyakkam Cycling Initiative in Tamil Nadu

Arivoli is an NGO which focuses on improving the literacy levels of poor rural women in Tamil Nadu. In 1992 they introduced an additional program to empower women by teaching them to cycle. After facing initial social pressures not to cycle, over 100, 000 women have learnt to cycle and now use bicycles as a transport method. It improves self esteem, independence from male family members, income earning potential, health, lost time spent time waiting for transport and the ability to access places which are further from their homes or bus routes. 

A recent study on the project shown that the initiative has lead to a huge increase in the number of women who can and do cycle in Tamil Nadu. The study also suggests that women's sense of self confidence is improved by their ability to cycle. However there are still many issues which prevent cycling having a positive impact on these women's lives such as limited access to bicycles and an increase in their expected work load when they have a bicycle.

Why don't women cycle?

As members of the ReDiscover team we have, of course, become acutely aware of the cyclists we see on the roads of Ahmedabad. I feel a sense of pleasure and pride watching them going about their daily cycling activities and I am sure that my delighted ‘cyclist spotting’ smiles and encouraging waves must be quite confusing as they ride past.

When you are watching the every day cycling population of the city as we have been a major absence is immediately apparent: women.

According to research by CEPT University, just 5% of women in Ahmedabad make their daily journeys on a bicycle while 63% make their journeys on foot. It seems that this phenomenon is not just seen in India but also in urban centres in the US and Australia also where a large majority of cyclists are also male.

So why are there so few women who choose to cycle in Ahmedabad?

We have been doing lots of research and case studies and have come up with many possible answers but the overriding (excuse the pun) two reasons are:
  • It is regarded as an unsafe activity for women and
  • It is not the social norm

It seems that these two reasons are also an international phenomenon. So how can we address these issues and help women to ReDiscover cycling as a mode of transport?

Safety on the road is a big problem in India, the country with the highest incidence of road deaths in the world. In Ahmedabad most cyclists we have spoken to report bad traffic as a major hindrance to their daily cycling. Improving safety on the roads will take some design intervention with improvements in the attitude of other road users, the road conditions as well as the infrastructure and facilities available to cyclists.

The design suggestion I have come up with is a safety map that would be available to all cyclists using the ReDiscover sharing system and other sharing systems that may develop in the city. By making the map interactive, we could chart user’s personal experiences and therefore cater the map to the area and needs of the cyclists. The map could chart the more safe, dangerous or common routes in the city to cycle, facilities available to cyclists like safe toilets, rest stops and health facilities and use visual clues for directions to circumvent the lack of street signage. I have trialled using a user-generated google map and you can have a look at the results on the google maps webpage – search for ‘time to cycle’ under ‘user generated maps’. For more information or suggestions please leave a comment below.

Changing social attitudes towards female cyclists is a difficult talk but there are many design possibilities. Check out the ‘Copenhagen Cycle Chic’ site for inspiration on making everyday women cyclists and bicycles look very designer-cool.