Meet the Bicycle Mayor of Hyderabad

Bicycle Mayor of Hyderabad
Amsterdam agency Bycs has appointed Santhana Selvan to promote bicycle culture in the city.

Hyderabad: Santhana Selvan, a city-based IT professional and cycling enthusiast, has been chosen by Amsterdam-based social enterprise Bycs as the Bicycle Mayor of the Hyderabad.

Sounds interesting? Well, it is, once we get to know what this Mayor does.

As the Bicycle Mayor of Hyderabad, Selvan’s role is to involve various stakeholders in the city, including government, non-governmental bodies and the public, to promote a bicycle culture in the city.

For Selvan, cycling was something he picked up just for running errands, as he shares: “I was living in Chennai and I started cycling just for errands. Later, I got to know of a cycling group and I started waking up every morning at 4.45 am to go for a ride with the group. I later became a core member of the group and have been into cycling advocacy ever since.”

Through the years, he has come to a stage where about 80 per cent of his entire commuting is done on a cycle. Later, he moved to Hyderabad and noticed that in this city, only fitness enthusiasts use cycles.

“There’s a very minor group of people who cycle here and only fitness enthusiasts at that. That is why I started a community along with my friend Dinesh, to have fun fitness activities such as cycling, running, swimming, etc. It has grown to having thousands of people,” Selvan explains, adding, “With the rapid growth of the city, personal vehicle usage has increased in the last two decades while public transport has come down drastically. Cycles are negligibly used, though it is one of the solutions for pollution and traffic congestion.”

According to Selvan, there has to be a drastic shift in the mindset, to increase cycling as a mode of transportation in the city. “There’s a mental barrier that a bicycle is only for low-income people but it can be adopted for the betterment of the city’s health collectively,” he feels.

To tackle this issue, he plans on filing petitions to the government to make the city bicycle friendly, in addition to having awareness campaigns on cycling.hy

“The GHMC has already set up two cycle rental centres in the city along with Hyderabad Bicycling Club, but it needs to be done in more areas across the city. Metro Rail also has cycles as a mode of last mile connectivity, but it’ll be great if they start at more stations. It’ll be better if the Metro allows cyclists to get on the Metro along with their cycles, the way it is done in some countries,” he adds.

According to Selvan, they plan on having Hyderabadis actively cycling for at least 50 percent of their needs by 2030, with all round efforts of everyone. He also says it is easy to make cycle an active part of your life.

“Just buy a cycle and use it for a couple of trips in a week, for errands or for commuting to places nearby. It’ll make a lot of difference,” he says.

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