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Evolution of cycling and devolution of cars' usefulness #CyKol

The joy of travel would be completely eliminated with teleportation. That’s where science is leading us. To quote Sherlock Holmes “The supreme gift of an artist is knowing when to stop.” This doesn’t mean quitting while you’re ahead by cashing in your chips and heading home. Rather temper your progress by looking around your current stage of evolution and see if indeed charging blindly forward is a good thing.


Where we are headed. Oink! Oink!

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We homosapiens have evolved from monkeys. We’ve shaped our current biological makeup to the best of our advantage by making the most of the physique handed to us. It would be counter-productive to go backwards on the chain of evolution but sometimes it would be helpful if we could hop back and forth between different stages of evolution, like when we need to climb a tree to retrieve a kitten. Or jump down out of a burning building/boring meeting.

In India, cycling is slowly evolving from the poor man’s vehicle to one of the most fashionable means of keeping fit. Once viewed as “downmarket” and “cheap”, this perception is now changing, albeit slowly. But like they say, its better late than never. The changing trends can be attributed to companies such as Sport18 that organize events like the India Cyclothon. Thanks to the Cyclothon and other such initiatives taking place in the country and abroad as well, people today, especially in the metros, are competing for status in cycling. For instance: who rides longer, who has the better bike, the better stunts, etc. There is a time and place for every form of transportation.

I’ve found in some instances that its faster to get from A to B by running than it is to board a bus and chug along in the bumper to bumper traffic. In bumper to bumper traffic, a bicycle bests a four wheeler. Of course in a Utopian universe, bumper to bumper traffic would be managed properly. As seen in Wall-E:

Something about that picture seems ominous. Some words that come to mind: Endomorphic. Sloth. Slob. Lazy bum. If you’re travelling small to medium distances and are in a reasonably good shape, it makes good sense to use a bike. After cycling around for the first time, I imagined that is how Neo must have felt after getting freed of the matrix. It felt like seeing something which existed all along but was rendered invisible by blindfolds of convention imposed upon us. There are just so many ways in which cycling beats other means of transport. Not that cycling has not been around for a long time, but it’s not always seen as the most convenient means of transportation these days. On the chain of evolution below, had we stopped somewhere in the middle it may have been better for us.

Putting aside the health and ecological benefits of using a cycle, here are some tongue-in-cheek reasons why the evolution and expansion in the number of cars with blind greed and without foresight has brought cars close to the pig stage.

Devolution in utility of cars, utility retained by cycles

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Parking-

That red one in the middle is mine. Barring a crane or a Wingardium Leviosa spell, I can’t think of any way to extract it.

We need a Prof Flitwick at our parking lots

It’s a funny sight to see someone drive up to their destination, circle around the block in a futile attempt at finding a spot to park the car, before giving up and finally heading two blocks away to a parking lot, and then walking all the way to the destination. Parking and the lack of parking space gives headaches to drivers. A cycle can just be chained to a pole, or you could put on a lock on the wheels.


Red lights-

Cars have saturated the traffic to such an extent that the frequency of red lights is increasing exponentially. All traffic comes to a standstill when it turns red. All except cyclists, who can just pedal ahead of the traffic while the other vehicles are stationary, blowing a raspberry at the drivers on the way.

Drunk driving-

A good number of accidents are caused by drunk driving. Cycling can eliminate drunk driving. Drunk tests are done by asking the suspect to walk in a straight line. Picture a drunk trying to ride a cycle. He won’t get 10 feet. Cycles have a beautiful built-in-drunk test.  Being drunk makes you lose your motor skills and in that condition you can’t really ride a cycle, or at least not without showing that you’re drunk.

How far will he get?

Don’t actually use this as a litmus test to see if you can ride drunk! The logic shown is just that there are fewer chances of DUI cases when you are riding a cycle.

Maneuverability-

A cycle may be the most agile form of transport. A bike can zig-zag through traffic, go reverse in a second, and take lines which a car driven by a stuntman on two wheels wouldn’t fit in. A cycle allows one to slither through gaps which the most anorexic car would struggle to fit into. Picture a person broad around the waist being mocked by fitter people. Now picture them getting into their vehicles, former on a cycle and latter in a Lamborghini. Who’s the fatty now you tub of lard!

Cars cost the government and taxpayers a lot more. Here’s a look at how one can facilitate the movement of vehicles and cycles.

Its not even funny. On one hand you have to construct goliath structures and on the other you have to paint on the road. You do the math. Creating a flyover costs approximately Rs.30 crores and achieves precious little. This amount may suffice to provide a cycle track network for whole of Delhi urban area.

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The India Cyclothon is coming to Kolkata! On 18 March, bring out your cycles and ride ahead. Info below:

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