Cycle Day campaign in Bangalore: fun on two wheels and more
By Phaeba Abraham, HealthBridge Regional Manager, South Asia
What began as a day dominated by hard-core cyclists has evolved into a Sunday morning car-free celebration by 30 community groups in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
In October, the Cycle Day campaign celebrated its third year in the city. HealthBridge’s local partner, Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF), worked as part of a consortium of organizations and individuals to form the Bengaluru Coalition for Open Streets (BCOS), which created the campaign.
The initial event attracted only serious cyclists, despite its objective to encourage non-cyclists to start using active transport for short errands and, in the longer run, cycle to school and work. Learning from that first experience, BCOS changed the strategy by adding open street events like traditional games, art, fitness and experiences that helped communities to re-imagine their streets as public spaces. Adding those activities transformed the celebration to one that offered various opportunities for active living.
As a result, now every Sunday morning 30 community partners close their streets to allow people to enjoy them free of vehicle traffic. Thousands of people take to these streets playing traditional games, skating and running, meeting neighbours and making new connections. The city has taken notice and has started inviting the network of community partners, including local resident welfare associations, to assist in implementing Neighbourhood Improvement Plans. This will result in creating local infrastructure for walking and cycling – one community at a time.
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