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Cycles emerge from motor vehicles' dust #CyKol

On one hand you have junk food. Its fast food, easily available and it’s bad for you. On the other hand you have healthy stuff which needs a little more effort to procure. It’s good for you and yet in today’s world its less readily available than junk food. Every roadside stall has a packet of potato chips. Try finding one which serves boiled vegetables.

The evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of using a cycle, and has been for ages. However with advances in technology and the resultant improvement in the means of transport, the new and advanced vehicles often leave cycles back in the dust.

Literally back in the dust. Dust kicked up by the car. Not even getting into the fuel requirements and exhaust emissions, a car kicks up dust as is by its heavy tires and body. Shopkeepers with shops facing the streets often throw buckets of water in front of their shop so that the dust doesn’t fly around. Poor roads are more prone to being dusty.

According to this report, in some cases in our country, existing contractors have been engaged in the same works for last many years, and dominate the administration in charge of maintaining roads. Work orders are taken well below the project cost, resulting in substandard work. Zonal engineers never visit roads during repairs and pass bills without inspections.

People have no parking spaces in front of their houses and their cars are parked on roadside, reducing the width of the roads and making it more difficult for pedestrians to walk along the roads. Sub standard roads leave more room for motor vehicles to kick up dust. One car whooshing by leaves behind a cyclone of dust on dusty roads. And it leaves behind pedestrians coughing, wheezing and cursing at the driver.

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Besides indirectly contributing towards noise pollution by attracting curses flying towards the motor vehicle, the motor itself whirrs and hums loud enough to drown the sound of said curses. It makes for a deafening cacophony of mechanical noises. And that’s just from the noise of a motor vehicle operating. There’s a louder and even more ear piercing ammo in the arsenal of motor vehicles.

Horns. Blaring horns emitting spikes of soundwaves to pierce your ear drum. Horns blow. And it blows to have to hear their blaring here, there and everywhere. Horns have a language of their own and their use can circle deep into a vicious circle of a dead end conversation. I’ve offered a translation below of  conversation between passing motorists:

A: *Blare* (Outta my way you!)
B: *Blare Blare* (Chill. What’s the rush? )
A: *Blare**Beep**Beep**Blare* (Urgent enough that I don’t have the time to explain anything to you besides monosyllabic horns.)
B: *Blare**Beep* (Alright. Keep honking. That’s gonna work.)
A: *Blare*(I can do this all day.)
A and B in chorus: *Beep**Beep**Blare**Beep**Beep*
C: *Beep* (What did you say to me?)

And the circle continues. With other cars jumping in. A horn is not a laser which you can point at towards the intended receiver. One horn blares and five motorists snap their head around looking for the puny idiot who dared challenge their authority on the road.

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Using horns as a means of communication often devolves into a war of attrition which neither side can win. Much like the war in the Middle East. Said Eminem back in 2003: “No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our own soil.”- Mosh. Fossil fuels are non renewable resources. We’ve been studying this since as far back as we can throw our memory. These facts were accompanied by artwork of motor vehicles farting out smoke and bleaching, spewing out pollutants in the air to find its way into your nostrils and your lungs. Its a fact so obvious so as to be ignored at times.

In India, the fuel use has been growing at alarming rates:


India imports more than 75 per cent of its crude requirements. In view of the flooding of auto market since 1991, mainly by MNCs: While global consumption increases annually by 2 per cent, the corresponding figure for India is 6 per cent. The International Energy Agency expects Indian demand to grow by 80,000 barrels a day in near future. Some OPEC member countries have warned that the oil price will touch Rs 150 per litre shortly due to rapid depletion of domestic oil sources.
Not only does the use of fossil fuels pollute the environment, they are limited in quantity leading to skyrocketing prices. Which in turn leads to conflicts like the ones in the war-riddled Middle East.

Not that the newer cars are very fuel efficient either:

Source: http://www.iea.org/work/2008/transport_indicators/Baidya.pdf


The carbon footprint of a modest, inexpensive car would trample a cycle’s footprint into dust. A car uses fossil fuel, a cycle uses the body’s fuel. Its high time we revert back to the use of the pedaled wonder.

Motor vehicles are an attack on all the senses for pedestrians. You have to plug in your ears to shield yourself from the noise, hold your nose to keep the pollutants out and cover your eyes to keep the dust out. You will need more than two arms. And then try to avoid being killed by the traffic with all your senses dumbed down.

How much easier would it be for everyone if these four wheelers gave way to two wheelers? Noise pollution goes down. Air gets less polluted. And we save on fuel as well. It seems like the logical choice.

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Hiraan Chatterjee’s (the face of the Avon India Cyclothon- Kolkata 2012) new movie, Macho Mastana seems to endorse this view. Check out the background:

Notice the cars blowing up? If cars continue to evolve with their current trend of development, they may just self destruct. After all, how far can you exploit the environment without a backlash?

It may be argued that cars can be essential for transport. They certainly are in many cases, mostly because they expedite travel. However, in our metro cities, the traffic moves at an average speed of less than 20 km/hr. Here are some articles which support the utility of cycles over cars, without even going into the health and ecological benefits. They just show how in certain cases, especially in our metro cities, using a cycle beats using a car:

3 experiments in Kolkata to beat traffic
Evolution of cycling and devolution of car’s usefulness
Infographics showing how traffic in metro cities can usher in cycling

One of our metro cities, Kolkata, is playing host to the Avon India Cyclothon- Kolkata 2012, which will take place on 18 March.

Details below:

Email (General): info@indiacyclothon.com
Email (For Corporates): corp@indiacyclothon.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/indiacyclothon
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/indiacyclothon
SMS Short Code – CYCLO – 51818

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