Meet Rizwanuddin, regional commissioner, Employee Provident Fund Organisation, who cycles to work every day and envisions a more health-oriented country in future.
If you stay in Dwarka Sector 22, you will probably have seen a man in his late forties heading to work every day on a cycle. That's Rizwanuddin, regional commissioner, Employee Provident Fund Organisation, Delhi. No, he doesn't do it because he has to, but rather, because he wants to.
Cycling is key to mental and physical wellbeing, believes this environmentalist and motivational speaker. And he has been making a powerful statement in the sub-city, cycling to his workplace every day at Bhikaji Cama Place in South Delhi, roughly pedalling 50 km daily. Not only this, he also holds motivational classes in schools free of charge.
City Spidey chatted him up on cycling and the kind of happiness it brings him. Excerpts:
How did this love affair with cycling begin?
It started when I was studying in Allahabad at the Institute of Engineering and Rural Technology. I rode 40 km every day to college, then on to tuitions and finally back home. The second phase was when I was in Dehradun and bought another bicycle to travel to and from my tuitions. After that my cycling started petering out. However, by the time I was posted at Bhikaji Cama Place in 2012, I had started gaining weight and feeling dull. It was my batchmate Subhash Sharma who reminded me of cycling again. Thus began my third phase. I started riding from Dwarka to my office every day. Soon these became my daily 'joy rides'.
What do you think is the connection between cycling and the society?
Cycling is an indicator of an individual's quality of life and society's prosperity as a whole. The happiest countries in the world today have adopted cycling as its preferred mode of transport, as it improves health, saves fuel cost, has a direct bearing on the economy and works wonders for the environment. I want cycling to improve our country's happiness index — and I am doing what I can for it.
Where do you see cycling as a mode of transport in future?
India’s was 133rd on the list of happiest countries this year, as per the UN Happiness Report. Cycling can help us build a healthy society, because today’s lifestyle does not always give us the time to visit gyms or go for regular workouts. Cycling gives me two hours of regular, much-needed exercise every day — and it also ensures that's another car off the roads. I feel cycling has a bright future in India. When I was transferred to Gwalior in 2013, we carried out a lot of campaigns in association with the administration, the schools, the BSF, the Air Force and other supporting institutions. Where there was one bicycle for every six two-wheelers then, there is one bicycle for every three two-wheelers.
Do you have a plan to engage the youth in cycling?
A number of cycling clubs are being formed and a number of cycling events, such as Audaux India, are also being held. These can attract the youth. We could initially plan for 50-km and 100-km events, and even arrange cycle rallies.
Is Delhi's infrastructure is suitable for cycling?
Delhi has one of the widest roads in India, but there are just too many encroachments and motorised vehicles! In my regular work commutes, I see I reach a lot faster when I take bylanes. I take about an hour to ride 22.5 km one way. But, wherever possible, the government should provide dedicated cycling lanes to encourage more cyclists to come out. There should also be dedicated parking areas for the cycles.
How would you suggest to the authorities to promote cycling?
A census of cyclists, I feel, is important. Also, those cycling to work or travelling extraordinary distance every day should be publicly acknowledged. The government should promote cycling as part of its new India campaign, including cycling events, triathlons and cyclothons — even taxation incentives and subsidies to government employees buying bicycles. I think the government should promote it on the lines of yoga these days. And, of course, there should be dedicated cycling tracks and parking space for bicycles. The government can even think about Make in India initiatives to manufacture world-class bicycles in India.
What message do you have for society?
Strive for happiness, health and self-development, rather than running after material wealth.