The streets are yours, this Cycle Day in Bangalore

Cycle day isn’t just about showing people that it’s still a viable, sustainable means of transport—it’s about spreading the joy it brings to people!

By Chirag Malkani

Those people, they got nothing in their souls
Oh the trigger of time it tricks you so you have no way to grow
Do you know that tonight the streets are ours
Tonight the street are ours
These lights in our eyes tell no lies

Taken from Richard Hawley’s track  “Tonight The Streets Are Ours.”

Everyone who has experienced Cycle Day in Bangalore loves it. It comes on the last Sunday of every month and reclaims streets from the suffocation of motorized traffic, letting people revel in their public space. The immediate neighbourhood as well as people from all over Bangalore attend the event where they get a chance to de-stress, embrace healthy activities and connect with fellow citizens.


Cycle Day is organized by the Bangalore Coalition for Open Streets (BCOS) – a non-profit collective comprising of the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), Praja RAAG, EMBARQ India, ESAF, and individual citizens. Their mission, in their own words, is to transform Bangalore through cycling and open streets, creating active communities, connected citizens and happy neighbourhoods. The event is free, inclusive, and accessible to all. The untiring and spirited volunteers behind his event sort out various logistical requirements and work silently towards making this event successful every month.

Blocking streets to motorized transport is a simple yet revolutionary idea as it frees up a lot of possibilities and creates a safe and festive atmosphere. Kids particularly, having been born into a generation which has given them streets full of speeding vehicles and exhaust fumes, cannot believe their luck: they run wild and free. There are chalk drawings/street art, fitness activities, carom and chess on the street, and  sections of the road to play football and badminton.


One can’t help but rue what poor urban planning and commercialization has done to our cities. The realization dawns that planning cities solely with cars and transit in mind comes at a cost. People are cut-off from their environment, and as a result do not feel any civic pride or engagement with their city. The idea of ‘liveable’ streets has a stronger footing in the western world where there is a lot of activism espousing safe streets and for the city to provide more breathing public spaces where people can walk about, recreate, and where bicycles won’t be seen as a nuisance.

The previous Cycle day near Agara Lake offered a sight to behold—a car-free service lane full of joyful people enjoying themselves while on the parallel main road, all you saw was the haste of cars and ugly traffic. People, trapped in automobiles, couldn’t help but stare at wonder. The juxtaposition was strange, and there was poetic justice. Walking along the stretch of the closed streets, one can observe and take in many heart-warming scenes. A man rides, balancing his wife on the rented bike. A little kid, face full of glee, tries to speed past his dad on his bicycle. An elderly woman determinedly rides on, having discovered the beauty of cycling at the later stages of her life. Seemingly insouciant youngsters, dressed in hip clothes encourage skateboarding and patiently teach it to others. You are greeted with ubiquitous smiles on everyone’s faces.


One can’t write about this without acknowledging the historic event that started it all – Ciclovia in Bogotá, Colombia. It continues to this day with more than a million people participating. They do it at a much bigger scale and this has been replicated across the world with some variation. Portland, Oregon has Sunday Parkways, New York city has Summer Streets, even Gurgaon in India has Raahgiri day. These are transformative events which are savoured by thousands of people who imbibe the feeling of community and sustainable transport.

If you are wondering why is cycling such an important part of these street events, this quote from Mikael Colville-Andersen who is an urban mobility expert will put things in perspective – “Bicycles belong at street level. Bicycle users are just pedestrians on wheels, not to be confused with motorized traffic. Creating safe, separated infrastructure on our streets is the way forward. Back to the future. Bicycles are the most effective and powerful tool we have for re-building our liveable cities.”


Join the next Cycle Day – 27th of July in Indiranagar, Bangalore – and experience it for yourself. Please visit the Cycle Day facebook page for details.

Also take a look at: 6 ways in which sustainable transport is winning around the world

Interested in urban sustainability, reading fiction, and a bit of a bike evangelist (not the motor kind) more


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