Cycle Day was started by BCOS - Bengaluru Coalition for Open Streets, a public-private partnership in October 2013. It’s a consortium of government, non- government organizations, and cyclists. This includes Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), Praja RAAG, ESAF, and few cyclists. The efforts included DULT coordinating with other government organization for the smooth functioning of the program, whereas partners like ESAF and Praja RAAG helped with organizing open street events on a last Sunday of the month.
Initially, the event was attended by cyclists and within two months, the BCOS team started engaging with the neighborhoods where children and families are encouraged to start using the bicycles for their short errands.
The campaign was launched to promote cycling and open street concept. The underlying effort is to raise public awareness for non-motorized transport (NMT) as a sustainable means of transportation and Pedestrainisation to support government in implementing the National Urban Transport Policy. The objective is to make public adapt to cycling for short distance commutes, last mile connectivity, shopping or leisure and thereby reduce pollution and traffic congestion while adopting a healthier lifestyle. Apart from this, the concepts like road sharing and creating a critical mass for the policy makers to understand the need of such planning and infrastructure to be in place.
The entire process of organizing Cycle Day over the period of 5 years with more than 400 Cycle Days with 45 community partners across the city has helped to increase the awareness on safety of pedestrians and cyclists, importance to have various cycling infrastructure and public bike sharing. Each community has an average of 300-400 people engaging with the program on a given Sunday. Cycle rides, open street events have enabled them to be physically active during those 3-4 hours which otherwise would have been spending sedentarily. The number of cyclists has increased over the period of time with the majority of them using it for short errands. Many of the community partners have started working with DULT to develop cycling infrastructures which included cycle tracks, cycle parking hubs, and cycle stands. This has encouraged many to start using bikes for short errands as they found that parking hubs and stands were a safer option. Convincing the traffic police to block the road for cyclists for every Sunday in different locations was dealt by DULT by imparting knowledge and awareness on why road sharing is important and how this will help eventually to reduce the use of personal vehicles.
The event that was started as a once a month program to engage with the community led to a weekly event in less than 18 months. As more community partners were on-board, most of the Sundays Cycle Days were organized in multiple locations across the city. This encouraged people to engage with their own neighborhoods resulting in increased social interactions.
Most of the community partners wanted to do only for once or for a couple of times as they assumed that this will require lots of initiatives and hard work. As the hassle of getting permissions was taken care of by DULT, the work of the community partners was concentrated only on community outreach and organizing the event. This has encouraged the community partners to sustain the programs. Once they had few events, they also have realized the importance and popularity of such events. This sequence had helped to get more community partners on board.
As a general practice, initially, the community partners wanted to organize a very big event with lots of human and financial resources into it. But in the process, we learned the importance of keeping it as a low financial commitment program to sustain. This strategy has been consistently shared and new partners see it as a time program than a one-time event.
Keeping the event as apolitical, non-religious, and non- commercial has been a major concern, but as the community partners understood the importance of such requirement, hardly anyone ventures into making it as a political, religious or commercial event. This has encouraged people of all walks to engage wholeheartedly.
DULT addressed the challenge of engaging with the major government stakeholders such as the Department of Traffic and the city administration (BBMP). While initially, BCOS implemented the programs, in the long run, the team helped to hand hold community partners to go through the netiquette of organizing the event with the help of volunteers from the community. Each community had decided upon their partners from the community, be it for sponsorships or for the partnerships in which they organize various programs other than cycle ride. This included Zumba session, yoga classes, and warm-up exercises led by the gym instructor from the neighborhood gym, and other NGOs / stakeholders who created awareness on various social and civic issues. 108 Ambulance was another partner who made sure that their presence throughout the event
Media has been very supportive and the media partner ensured through their pre and post creative ads in the daily leading newspaper brought many more many people from the community.
For about three months, the event was organized by BCOS in different communities. DULT team worked out required permissions from other government departments and other members of BCOS took care of community outreach. With the help of volunteers and police staffs, the bike rides were carried out. ESAF will engage the community with various games and activities along with other partners who will create awareness on certain issues. These partners are generally chosen from the community itself so that people can relate and connect with them easily for future engagements.
Now, we have reached a stage were popularity and the consistency of the event since 2013 attract many new partners. Social media and print coverage also brings lots of curiosity among partners to engage with the program. In some cases, BCOS members or other community partners introduce the concept to the new partners through the network. Once they are convinced, the community partners are asked to request for an appointment with DULT. The DULT team along with members of BCOS brief them about the objective and long term goals to be achieved for a particular community. The team also helps the community to identify the stretch where the community can do cycle ride and open street events. The stretches are identified in such a way that the route of public transport is not affected in any way through this event. The other criteria to select the location is to identify a stretch where lots of tree shades and easily accessible and identifiable location for the community. Physical verification is done by the DULT/ BCOS members ensure that the stretch chosen is ideal for the community to engage with the programs.
Once this initial step is done, the community partner sign Memorandum of Understanding with DULT/ BCOS for three months and later renewed for another three months. Followed by which, DULT will work with the Department of Traffic for the necessary permissions. The permissions are usually done in a week's time. Followed by this, the community interact with the local police stations and start with the community outreach programs. The media also helps to publicize the event in the daily newspaper prior to the week.
On the day of the event, the local traffic police, traffic wardens, and the community volunteers cordon off the traffic or completely stop while cycle ride passes through the loop which will be an average of 5 kilometers. The volunteers and partners engage the community with different activities. Mostly we promote traditional games, bike repair cafes, blood checkup, other awareness programs such as waste segregation, urban farming, terrace gardening etc.
One of the BCOS members will be present to hand hold and check on the process of running the program. This will help the BCOS team and the community partners to deliberate on how the program has been organized and what way they can improve or outreach with more partners and participants. Post the event, the details are sent to the media which will be published in the newspaper daily.
1. 45 neighborhoods have been sensitized on the importance of Cycle Day and non-motorized transport for short errands. As Bengaluru Coalition for Open Streets (BCOS), we have initiated 454 Cycle days in the city
2. 3 cycle day community partners got cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in their neighborhoods
3. 2 community partners got public bike sharing facilities in their community
4. With the success of cycle day being one of the longest running open street events, State government allocated 801.8 Million INR for Public Bike Sharing (PBS) Program for Phase – I, the city will have 6000 bicycles and 350 docking stations
5. Government have been proactive to encourage dock less PBS in the city which led to 3 apps based bike sharing system in the city, being used extensively by people
6. Approximately 350 cycle stands were installed in 3 government schools. One school had around a 40% increase in the number of children coming by bike. Another 56 schools are selected for installing bike infrastructure for which a budget of 10.9 Million INR was allocated
7. Post Cycle Day, upon the request of the many, Bangalore Bicycling School was started where teenagers, ladies, elderly women, men are taught cycling. On average, 10-15 people were taught weekly - ready for cycling in the busy traffic. Started in one location, now the school is running two centers in the city on Sunday for about 4-5 hours
8. Our Walk and Cycle to School program has seen a 1200% increase in the number of children cycling to school. One school has taken a separate cycle parking space and issues 110 parking coupons to park the bikes of students safely. Two other schools have started traffic management from 50-100 meters of school so that children are safely walk and cycle to the school.
9. In continuation with the advocacy with various government departments, Department of Horticulture has closed the Cubbon Park (one of the largest lung space in the city) for vehicles on all Sundays, Second Saturdays and on public holidays to encourage more people to use the space for cycling
10. Many kids and parents report that they are much more comfortable in venturing out in bicycles for short errands
11. Many kids have reported that their parents have started walking and cycling along with them to school on Saturdays and spending more quality time together
12. Few communities have seen an increase in cyclists in their locality
13. Behavior and attitude to cycling and cyclists by the motorized vehicle owners have improved through a lot more empathizing has to happen
14. Children have taken the onus of planning their mode of transport, on Saturday by asking their parents or school transport service providers not to come/drop them to schools.
15. ESAF implemented Bicycle Mayor Program with Dutch NGO, BYCS to reach the ambitious goal of 50by30! The Bicycle Mayor’s « Cycle to Work program » has created and out standing reach of 400 people from 115 companies within 6 months of program launch
16. Few media houses become media partner of Cycle days where pre and post event details of cycle days are published in the English daily on a weekly basis spreading the message of sustainable mobility at a larger arena
Cycle Day has been a public-private partnership event that ensured its sustainability, thus the onus has not fallen only on government or to the public. DULT, the nodal agency of implementing National Urban Transport Policy, 2006 has taken the initiative to get other government bodies on board for the program made the program to be a sustainable.
Shifting the location from a central part of the city where businesses are thriving to the neighborhoods got the community's attention and facilitated the participation of people of all ages.
Traditional games at the Open Street Events kindled two generations to bond with each other. It was kind of an opportunity for the elderly and their children to revisit their childhood memories. Apart from bringing their childhood memories, this also has generated a curiosity among the younger generation to learn.
Cycle Day created a platform for the community to engage with each other and to build their community by addressing various civic issues, awareness programs, and socialization. Instead of going for a city-wide infrastructure initiated and owned by the government, Cycle Day is a trendsetter where neighborhoods identify what suits best for them and then get back to DULT for the designs and proposal. This has initiated participation in the community ensuring sustainability of the program planned for the Neighborhood. The neighborhood-based plan also ensured that the community received what they wanted and not what the government thinks to be best for them.
Involving children through Walk to School on Saturday made them brand ambassadors for spreading the messages to their family members and friends. There were many instances where parents shared that children had instructed them to either go for a walk or use a bicycle when they go for short errands. “Map my Route” done by the students identify various issues they came across as they commute to the school. This helped the community partners to add value when they were developing the Neighborhood Improvement Plans for City administration’s approval.
Cycle Day in the Neighborhood has got an unusual request from many especially ladies of all age groups who either forgot cycling or never got a chance to learn cycling – to teach them to ride a bike! One of the active cyclists in the city has initiated the process and now it’s been running successfully in various part of the city. The youngest kid is 2.5 years of age who could safely cycle around because of open streets.
Being a community-led program, the very ownership of organizing cycle day has equipped them to look at their walkability and pedestrian issues in a very different way that otherwise, they would have never cared for. Many districts of Government of Karnataka are trying to replicate the cycle stands and have made budget allocations. Few of the districts/cities are Gadag, Hubli- Dharwad, the twin city; Mangalore and Mysore are going ahead with similar plans. Mysore has India’s first Public Bike Sharing Scheme which has 8000 active users which are mostly been used by students and elderly. Gadag has passed the resolution to implement PBS and Cycle Days.
Cycle day has shown a working model that any city can adopt – being a public-private partnership program that can make each one of the stakeholders to be the owner of the program. This strategy has led it to be the longest run open street events in the country. Identifying and having the right stakeholders especially the government departments who can spearhead the process in a very focused manner has sped up the promotion of non-motorized transport as an option people can now think of. The popularity, in more neighborhoods involving in celebrating Cycle Day and participation of the community has led the government and city administration to re-introduce NMT as an option for the first and last mile connectivity.
Since the ownership has taken by the community, the development plans have a much more practical approach than the government dumping random projects to the neighborhood. This participation encouraged the community to negotiate with the departments to - what exactly they want in their neighborhood as developmental plans.
The event has been running it in a very cost-effective manner. Keeping it very low profile in terms of the financial resources has helped the community to run it consistently. With very minimum amount as the initial investment which is mostly collected through as sponsorship, the community volunteers run an errand the other responsibilities. Mobilizing resources through community partnerships have sustained them without fizzling out the energy and resources.
One of the great examples of sustainability of this program is that the government has started seeing as an option for the first and last mile connectivity. Along the metro lines, there are many vendors who have provided public bike sharing plans which is very much affordable for the commuters. The investment made for promoting public bike sharing will also enable it further as a cool mode of transport around the cities. Government’s plan to integrate with the other sustainable mode of transport makes it successful transport planning for the city.
Bangalore Bicycling School has accelerated the number of people using bikes especially for elderly who have left their biking skills along with their school education. Also, people who never got an opportunity to learn while they were kids, see as an excellent platform. The Bike school's monthly 15 K drive helps the students to have them first-hand experience on how it will be on the road while biking along with other traffic on a regular day.
The interest of more public bike vendors in the city shows the demand it has created by the people. Their spread across the cities especially along the outer ring road, major IT parks, and the metro corridors have encouraged and made it more convenient for people to use as a first and last mile connectivity or even for short errands.
Community partners are encouraged to work beyond organizing the Cycle days to plan and demand infrastructural changes in their own Neighborhood. While few communities have done mapping on the trips generated and identified locations for bicycle stands to be installed whereas others went ahead with walk /cycle to school programs and Neighborhood improvement plans which primarily focused on pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. With city administration approving these projects and Public Bike Sharing to be implemented in the city, we can see a significant attitude change in the city’s transport options and plans.
Any project that involves community participation can ensure its sustainability. Cycle Day has proven the point that public-private partnership can bring long-term benefits to the community and society at large. What an amazing way of implementing National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP), 2006, where citizens, civil society organizations and the government officials work hands in hand to make it as a huge success! This will be the first of its kind where any city can learn from Bangalore experience in implementing policies from the grass root level!
Apart from driving Cycle Day in the Neighborhood, the walk to school program, the pilot program of ESAF as a continuation of the cycle day events in the community was a strategy to target children. Walk to School on Saturday has seen an increase of 900% “in some schools” with seven schools enrolling in the program. The excitement of the campaign led many students to join even from the farthest distance although our campaign insists for students residing less than 2 Kilometers. The farthest distance covered by the students is 6 km from a class 7 student through a heavy traffic volume route. Schools joined hands and encouraged the students to continue the practice on Saturdays, school transport and other transport that ferried children were asked to stop 100 – 150 meters away from the school which ensured the safety of all the children walking and cycling to school.
Parents have seen a considerable enthusiasm and behavioral changes in their wards such as getting up early, asking their transport service provider to not to come on Saturdays to pick them up, planning for their travel well in advance that they are on time to reach school etc. Schools have drawn plans to sustain the efforts by identifying suitable traffic management like stopping the school buses 100-150 meters and private vehicles 50- 100 meters away in order to facilitate a safe environment for the children who are walking and cycling to school and the students of class 8 & 9.
The first Bicycle Mayor in the city initiated, “cycle to work” campaign. This app based program records the number of people cycling to work from different companies in the city. The data generated will be useful for policy makers and planners. The data gathered within 6 months is promising to show that a significant number of people are cycling to work. Again, this data is not comprehensive as it captures only people cycling to offices, but there are other unorganized segment where people use to cycle to reach their destinations either for work or for commuting to school. This means that there is a significant number of people commuting by bike which is unaccounted and despite having very minimal or almost nil infrastructure. This shows the immediate need of having adequate infrastructure to be provided.
Many communities have come forward to object the steel flyovers and other unsustainable infrastructure which were in the pipeline as development. Most of the members who were part of this campaigns were Cycle Day community partners who have actually started vouching for sustainable transport like Bus Bhagya Beku (we need public transport), Chukubukku Beku (we need a suburban rail system), integration of public transport system, Skywalk Beda Pedestrian signal Beku (we don’t need skywalk, we need pedestrian signal), and other pedestrian and cycling infrastructures. Organizing more than 450 Cycle Days equipped many community members to fight for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. There has been a considerable increase in the sale of bicycles though it is not being accounted. But many big and small vendors have reported increase in the sale. The considerable increase in the number of cyclists using bicycles for errands or for work has shown that Cycle Day has created a significant impact and lack of infrastructure has not dampened the spirit of exploring the city/ neighborhood on a cycle!