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Bicycle Movements Community Movements - Part 1 !

· 6 min read
Murali HR

The Bicycle Movement in India have a different trajectory , Here I am just going to record how movements happens and how they grow and eventually in there is no flame carriers it will die out.

Critical Mass

Bangalore critical mass was one of the first experiment we started to promote cycling in Bangalore. with Pradeep and Srinivas Ramesh We wanted to promote the idea of people coming together on Saturdays and claiming the space and sending the message of cycling to the state agencies. Majority of the folks were from IT Industry - and i met whole gang of cyclists who were responsible for creating the movement of cycling in India .
This was reported in the citizen matters and we were very happy that a "news paper " covered our bicycle ride. Here is a poster from the third critical mass - we were all of the belief that we are changing the world and helping our city becoming more cycle friendly.

But eventually as I reflect the work of the last one decade I can say that we have not moved an inch in creating the public infrastructure - because we did not get the critical mass to support cycling - not in the community - we succeeded in creating a vibrant cycling community in Bangalore - but in the state - our state did not have the critical number of leaders who said we need to shift to fossil fuel free future - Nitin Gadkari keeps making the buzz but on the ground - there is no action - because as a nation we love talking and talking -

Also we had a reporter Deepa Mohan from citizen matters who was elder to us - but kept motivating us and also occasionally joined us on the ride.

Tour of nilgiris

This was the tour that gave me a break into cycling , The event which actually created a "quantum leap" in cycling in Bangalore is TFN. Bangalore people like to use acronyms and TFN is one such acronym which all cyclists remember and cherish.

The beginning was done by a discussion on an online forum . Ravi Ranjan, Pradeep BV , Rajesh Nair and Venkatesh from Wheelsports met and started the idea of taking the people on a ride to ooty. They gave a fantastic name - "tour of nilgiris" - and they also found a sponsor which was the Nilgiri Bakery. Overall everyone in the team really worked hard and we had lots of fun - that shaped my belief about the possibility of cycling in India.

  • Follow The very idea of the TFN trip, was to convince people that "if a 11-year old can do 919 km in a week, surely, the people of Bangalore can think of cycling to work every day.

  • Join Meena Menon - Has more details of the first edition of TFN - you can see it was the first big tour that happened

  • TFN continues to happen even after 15 years of beginning is because of Deepak Majipatil - otherwise people who had started moved on with life; Deepak worked hard for 15 years to keep this movement from not dying - Hats off to Deepak majipatil.

Cycle Day

Cycle Day was an event conceived by Praja Team and we played the role of supporting actors - but once the event took off - we were the main players of the event that sent the message of cycling across the city. The first cycle day was held in cubbon park. The first cycle day attracted atleast 3000 cyclists in 2012. Many of the cyclists hoped that DULT would work in mission mode to enable cycling across Bangalore. Times of India signed up as Media partner and our dear friend and journo Charan CS was active in enabling the reporting of cycling in Bangalore. MLA and MPs joined in to have fun -

Cycle Day eventually became a "sunday break" and nothing else - and most of the people who volunteered for the cycle day left the event to fuel itself and "cycle day" was an event organized by the volunteers to make bangalore a cycling city . With no action on the ground in that direction the cycle day fizzled out. Eventually corona virus put the final nail in the coffin of cycle day.

Go Green - Go Cycling

A separate page has to be written about Go Green Rao - who started the movement of cycling in parallel and Prabhakar Rao was succesful in spreading the passion of cycling with his team and he quickly got around 4000 members to sign up and spread the fire among the citizens of the city.

How do you get to this level? Just do the following:

  • Consistently organized rides around Bangalore on sundays - .
  • Participated in all major events - he was the first person to be invited as the man with the community of cyclists
  • Building the community with a Brand of t-shirts and having a unique format for the ride ensured people follow it with regular frequency.
Go Green Rao

One of the greater success stories of Bangalore cycling - starts with Go Green Rao - who understands the limitations of the car centered society - yet has unlimited energy.

Bangalore Brevets

The idea behind Brevet Ride was to make people ride long distance in a definite span of time . The brevets ride was started in 2011,soon after tour of nilgiris. TFN had no boundary, people could ride at their pace, they would be picked if it was too dark . Here there is a sword of disqualification if one fails to complete . People love to participate in competetion and win - that is the spirit that drove Brevets to be one of the leading rides in Bangalore .

Brevet ride also contributed to the tribe of long distance high endurance cyclists from Bangalore.

How do Bangalore Brevet Transform the cycling landscape in Bangalore ?

  • Made people practice cycling as a serious sports .
  • Enabled people to go to Nandi Hills making Nandi Hills the Kasi of the cyclists in Bangalore
  • Created a Tribe of Indian Cyclists who participated in global competetions like UK Londin Edinburgh Ride .