Cycling to work is good for the environment and good for your health – Newtown’s new business mantra
The SwitchON Foundation, in partnership with the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) and in association with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) – a global think tank, has launched an innovative sustainability initiative “Cycle to Work” – with the aim of urging the local business and resident welfare associations of Newtown Kolkata to recognize and consider cycling as the mode of daily transportation and commuting.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), safe infrastructure for walking and cycling is also a pathway to greater health equity. Cycling to work can reduce costs, increase productivity and promote mental health.
A similar initiative has been taken by other cities like Silvassa under the Cycles4Change Challenge and the Streets4People Challenge 2020, launched under the Smart Cities Mission – Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHU). The initiative aims to encourage cities to create “healthy streets” integrating walking, cycling and public transport to make streets safe and convenient for everyone. Under the program, more than 100 cities are part of this transformation nationwide – Newtown Kolkata being one of them as a prime example.
Over the years, Newtown has been the hub of information technology with many large consulting and IT services companies providing huge job opportunities in the state. At the same time, NKDA over the years has been an example for the rest of the country to follow when it comes to sustainable mobility infrastructure. From the introduction of public bike-sharing systems, dedicated bike lanes, to the provision of bike parking, throughout the township, NKDA’s actions have been an inspiration for broader sustainability in the metropolitan area.
The initiative aims to encourage various organisations, businesses and their teams to ditch cars and motorbikes and cycle to their place of work, in order to boost health while saving the planet. The initiative also offers an innovative platform that gamifies cycling to work through leaderboards, challenges, maps, and more.
Speaking on occasion, Shri. Debashis Sen, President of NKDA, said, “This work cycle initiative is a very important step for NKDA, as we want to encourage people to come forward and adopt sustainable habits for future generations. Bicycles are proving to be important means of transport for health and livelihoods. New Town, Kolkata is one of the most bike-friendly cities in India. I am a big supporter of cycling and we at NKDA have created the infrastructure for cycling as well as multiple initiatives for all businesses and Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to use.
The initiative urges employers to encourage their employees through healthy competitions, such as nudging each other to perform better in the health and carbon offset rankings. As part of the initiative, Newtown employers who are getting into cycling will also have the opportunity to post regular updates on their employees who use bikes and who will be duly recognized on social media.
Speaking at the event, Ms. Aishwarya Soni, Deputy Director – Strategic and Visual Communications, ITDP India said, “Cycle2Work is an excellent initiative that encourages employees to choose a healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. . The positive impacts of switching to cycling are immense, and I am happy to see New Town Kolkata embrace this initiative. As the number of cyclists grows, the city needs to invest and create the right systems – build safe and comfortable bike paths; plan well-connected cycling networks; and ensure access to affordable cycles for all.
Also present at the event, Dr Nilesh Tiwari of Narayana Superspecialty Hospital, who also signed the letter of support for the Cycle To Work initiative, said: “I cycle to work and as a doctor , that’s what I would encourage everyone to do for their health and as a citizen I would encourage everyone to do to keep the city pollution and congestion free.
Speaking at the event, Vinay Jaju MD SwitchON Foundation said; “We are really happy to see the response and support from different companies, housing companies on using cycles to work, we hope this will encourage more companies to promote Cycle to Work culture among their employees,” said he further explained as a victory. winning approach; “This not only promotes health, but can also have positive effects on the environment, especially if cycling and walking replace short car trips.” he added.
A board member from the housing company said: “We really think this is a fantastic idea and we will definitely adopt it with our companies. Our company will ensure that there are separate bicycle parking lots in our complex for didis and dadas who come to help at the house and in our complex, and will encourage residents to use the bicycle to get to work” , he added ; “As fuel prices hit new highs, bicycling makes more sense for everyone.”
Speaking at the event, an IT professional who commutes to his office daily said: “Cycling to work keeps me on time to and from the office, because I fight traffic and increasing traffic jams. Cycling has become a rage around the world and like me, more and more people are cycling to work and not just for their health.
“Cycling to work visibly changes the way we behave and use our commons. It is increasingly digital, which makes it ready for the future. – Sathya Sankaran, co-founder, Urban Morph & Bicycle Mayor, Bengaluru.