Were the beautiful blue skies and dramatic dip in air pollution Indians experienced during the lockdown a short-lived dream?
It doesn’t have to be. Rather, it shouldn’t.
The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of the pressing need to live in harmony with nature, and do our best to safeguard our environment. It’s also led us to re-imagine what our cities should look like after the pandemic i.e. More Cycles, Less Cars. Two new videos released by digital advocacy organization Jhatkaa.org drive this message home.
In the first video, Mumbai-based rapper Dee MC speaks of the new normal and the lessons we need to learn going forward. She asks citizens to experience Do Pahiyon Wali Azadi.
Taazi hawa hai luxury
Mask Hue compulsory
Seekho kuch from history
Ki conservation hai necessary
The second video, in an intriguing 8-bit video game format chronicles the life of Riya, a weary corporate employee struggling through traffic and commuting woes. Her life takes a 360 degree turn once she begins cycling to work instead.
The videos are part of a nationwide campaign by Jhatkaa.org — on CycleNow.in — demanding a Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) policy for India. The campaign is also calling on citizens and cycling enthusiasts across India to hit the streets with their cycle on August 15, as a show of solidarity and to celebrate Independence from Fuel.
Across the world, cities such as Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Rome and others have begun setting up hundreds of kilometres of new cycle tracks in the wake of Covid-19, with France even subsidising bike repairs and e-bike purchases. In India, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs recently has announced the Cycles4Change initiative. The time is ripe for change.
Shikha Kumar, Campaigns Manager, Jhatkaa.org says, “The spike in bicycle sales across the country in the past few months has proven that they’re no longer being looked at as just a recreational activity — but as a mode to avoid crowded public transport and practise physical distancing with ease. Our cities don’t have a cycling ecosystem — we need dedicated lanes, basic infrastructure like public sharing stands and more. We hope this campaign leads us in that direction.”
Citizens can also support local petitions from their own cities with more tailored demands tailored — Jhatkaa.org currently has campaigns from over 15 cities. Many of these are being run in collaboration with bicycle mayors part of BYCS India — like Firoza Suresh from Mumbai, Sathya Sankaran from Bengaluru, Arshel Akhter from Guwahati, Kanishka Poddar from Ranchi amongst others.
“The bicycle is the simplest solution to the most complex problems! We need collective action and a shift in mindset from both, citizens and our governments. Let’s work towards a new normal that is smarter and sustainable. Our bicycle mayors are happy to associate with Jhatkaa.org on #ResetWithCycling,” Sonal Kulkarni, BYCS India