With the Covid-19 increases rapidly in India, we are witnessing a boom in the population swapping the cars with cycles. Bicycles have been considered a poor man’s mode of transport and cars have been an ultimate status symbol for a long time but now we can see a shift in the preference of people who are commuting from one place to another. Some are choosing cycles to commute to work while others have opted for cycling as a fitness exercise. People believe that as the workplaces have started opening, the cycle can prevent them from contamination as in packed public transport.
“I prefer traveling in buses and it’s free for women too. However, not only has their frequency gone down, but most arrive with more than 20 passengers and I can’t board them according to the government mandate. I am afraid what will happen to my family if I get infected with the virus so I borrowed this cycle from a neighbour, but will soon buy one for myself,” said a woman when we asked her reason for switching onto the cycle.
Delhi Metro which carries 30 lakh passengers daily was shut for a very long time to avoid overcrowding and even in the DTC buses, only 20 passengers are allowed to travel at a time following the social distancing norms. Though the metro is now open, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has issued very strict guidelines to avoid contamination. Due to the halving of carrying capacities of public transports, there has been a huge waiting time for all the passengers. People have also moved to private vehicles, but it is not possible for all the passengers.
In a conversation with one of the best cycle brands in India, we realized that India is experiencing a boom in the cycle sales in this pandemic. While other businesses are dropping, cycle brands like Contino Bikes have no stock left but the demand for the cycles is never-ending. This craze of bicycles is unique and never seen before. When we asked them when was the last time they cycled either for commuting or for leisure purposes, 90% of people told us that they remember, they were in their childhood when they last rode a bicycle or a bike.
People are spending on bikes because they think that is the best way to avoid crowded public transport and maintain social distance from others. The buyers further added, not only will this avoid the contamination but would also keep them healthy and fit. As everyone is dealing with mental stress because of this ongoing pandemic, people believe that cycling is a good way to de-stress and it keeps them fresh and active.
Amidst the lockdown, everyone tried to be productive but it is of no surprise that lockdown made us lazy and now as the lockdown has lifted, people are now desperate to boost their immunity and stay healthy as it will help them to ward off the virus. Therefore, people see exercise as essential. People used to prefer gyms to keep themselves healthy but as there are many chances of contamination while gyming, people believe that cycling is the only form of exercise that can be done while avoiding human contact.
Health along with safety, this is the reason for increasing cycling demand in India amidst the global pandemic. While it has taken a global pandemic for Indians to realize the value of cycling, India is not likely to become a commonplace for cyclists any time soon as in Europe.
The ministry is seeing this as an opportunity to recycle the cities across the nation. Since the capacity of public transports like metros and buses has been reduced, the ministry is sure that people would need alternate mobility options. More and more people are switching to cycling, this will reduce the pollution across the city emitted by various transports. The government is also starting many campaigns to promote cycling, the progress is slow but in the coming times, we can expect even more increase in the demand for Hybrid bikes and bicycles online in India.