Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Heaven for cyclists

Interlaken, Switzerland is the most beautiful city I have visited till date. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, it is heaven on earth. But what makes this place even more remarkable is that there are some fantastic tracks laid out for cyclists. There is a beautiful track that takes you from one lake to the other (you guessed it right, Interlaken is between two lakes). Once in a while the track disappears into the beautiful woods lining the track. And the best part ... you can borrow a cycle for free from the hotel you stay in (at least the one I stayed at had this offer).

Have a look:

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Can you imagine?

Can you imagine ...

... a parking slot dedicated entirely to cyclsists?

... a track where no motorcycles or cars are allowed - only cycles?

... a railway station that has a dedicated parking room for cycles?

... a train that has a bogey for cyclists to travel with their cycles?

... a population that respects the rights of the cyclist on the road?

All this and more is possible. One merely has to visit the West European Continent. It is for this and this reason alone that I consider them to be more civilised than us. Otherwise we are all humans!

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Joys of Sunday Mornings - Early Morning Rides

One of the joys of Sunday Mornings is to get ready very early and go for a long ride on the cycle with my elder son, Arunabh, also on a cycle. Though most of my time goes in correcting him - "don't look back', "don't ride in the middle of the road", "stop! don't cross now". Need to let go!!

He is getting to love these early morning rides and that in itself is a great joy. He wants to get on to my cycle - that will require some massive persuasion on his part!! Some day perhaps.

What amazes me every time is how light my Trek is when compared to the "middle-sized" cycle that my son rides.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bright colours help cyclists

To all the bicyclists on Bangalore Road,

I have experimented and I can confirm that bright red, orange and yellow T's / shirts help! The motorcyclists and the car drivers on the road notice you from far. You can figure this out by the distance of their honking (Yeah! They still honk - what do they think? That I am on a suicide mission and will jump straight in their path on purpose? ). When I put on something dull, they tend to notice me very late and the clearance between them and me, when they pass me, is scary.

So, chaps take my advice. Display your colours! After all nature intended the male of the species (I do not see many lady cyclists on the road anyways!) to appear bright - look at peacock

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Monsoon and Cycling

I dreaded the onset of monsoon. There goes my twice-a-week commuting to the office - I thought! But no I was wrong. For one, Bangalore does not have torrential rains - when it rains it pours, but more or less at definite intervals. And second, the mornings are so pleasant that one wants to cycle on and on and on. And third, light showers cool your body down and makes the ride a real fun. And fourth, the motorcyclists seems to hate light showers and tend to stay off roads during the showers making the roads that much safer.

Note: I wonder why anybody hasn't come up with a scientific explanation on the more or less 24-hour cycle of the rain patter in Bangalore.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How much do I save by Cycling?

Besides the fact that I feel healthier and all systems go, I decided to work our how much I save per year by cycling twice a week to work.

My office is 10km away from my house. The price of 1 litre Diesel is around Rs. 38 in Bangalore. I think my car does about 14 km per litre, but in Bangalore during the rush hour I will be surprised if it does anything more than 10km per litre (and that is on the hgher side!).

That means I spend arounf 2l of Diesel a day. Works out to Rs. 152 per week. That is Rs. 608 a month. That is Rs. 7296 a year.

Plus the fact that I feel good about doing my bit to save the world.

Hmmm ... I think I need to start doing this 3 times a week!!!

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Message from a cyclist to all the pedestrians on Bangalore roads

Hi all those who cross the roads in Bangalore,

I wish to place the following for your kind consideration:

Please acknowledge the presence of a cycle approaching you in the same way you would to any other speeding vehicle. Cycles are not made of gases and it is unlikely that unless the cyclist brakes hard when you mindlessly step in front of him/her the resulting impact will not hurt you and/or the cyclist.

I am willing to be corrected here, but except at zebra crossings, on roads a cyclist has the right to way. I do understand that you will cross the road when you need to, but when you stop for a speeding car to pass, I see no reason why you cannot do the same to a speeding sycle.

The above is also directed towards those who, instead of walking on the pavement, walk on the edge of the road. The extreme edge is where we cyclists tend to ride and that belongs to us when there is a pavement.

And no, I have not yet met with any accidents, but I have had some close shaves - not with cars and m'bikes but with pedestrians.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Dedicated Bicycle Lane in Bangalore

My newspaper - the Times of India, Bangalore Edition - informs me that three main roads in Bangalore has a cycle track!!!

So, that is what the Thick White Line on the extreme left of the Airport Road and M.Gm Road is for. Wow!

I guess, this needs to be communicated to the Cyclists and, more importantly, the motor cycle and the car drivers - urgently.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

First Day of Commuting to Office on Bicycle

13 km, 38 minutes. Not a bad first day of commuting to office. I have a Trek3700 (see photograph on the right) - an MTB but every bit at home on Bangalore Roads. I plan to do this at least twice a week.

Here's what I did to reach office in one piece.

1) Started early to beat the heavy traffic. Need to start earlier.

2) Stuck to the extreme left. Believe me when I say that even this is not safe. The motorcyclists and cars drivers in Bangalore love to overtake from the left and that brings them dangerously close to you.

3) Follow the contour of the edge. This makes the ride entertaining! Reminds you of Fractals and the sea coast!

4) At times there are cyclists coming the other way. Need to give a quick look backwards over the shoulder to ensure no other vehicle is approaching and then move into the road to give way. Just wondering if riding against the traffic is a safer way - after all, on roads with no pavements one is supposed to walk against the direction of the traffic.

5) There were two buses parked on the road. Dismounted and walked across. Ditto when I had to cross over to take a right turn.

On My Return Trip:

1) Reached home earlier - bypassed two evening hour traffic jam.

2) Got caught in a light drizzle - actually enjoyed riding in the rain.

3) Gained a little more confidence.

Feels good.

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