A cycle ride organized in Salt Lake during World Environment Week saw participation from over 100 cyclists from different walks of life on Sunday. Students, environmentalists, professionals, sports and health enthusiasts who believe that cycling has a big role to play in reducing the levels of air pollution in the city of Kolkata.
This event, organized by Kolkata Clean Air and Switch ON in association with Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Bike Studio, Cycle Network Grow, Volunteer and Akriti Photography saw the city come together to raise awareness among the citizens about air pollution and inch towards zero-emission mobility.
This year the Theme for World Environment Day is Beat Air Pollution to be held on 5th June and 3rd June also happens to be World Bicycling Day. The organisers, fearing that Kolkata was making the same mistake other cities made, demanded to provide equal right to space to all its citizens. European cities that became car-centric realised later that bicycles and public transport needed to be prioritised and turned their backs on car-centric policies.
The event was a zero waste affair, with no single-use plastic used or flex banners – all the waste is going to be composted or recycled.
The ride started at Central Park Salt Lake and ended with a loop from Rabindra Teertha, covering approximately a distance of 20 km. All riders were presented a Gulmohar sapling in a reusable cloth bag, encouraging them to plant trees, which has a significant and positive impact on the air quality. Free cycles were made available at the venue for cyclists.
Speaking at the event, Dr Suman Mallik, clinical director, chief of radiation oncology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital said, “Air pollution has become a leading cause of respiratory diseases and lung cancer. In terms of air pollution, Kolkata has not only touched the country’s capital, but has also surpassed it on a few occasions. Kolkata Clean Air has come forward to spread the awareness among all citizens and to work hand in hand to provide a clean and safe environment for us and more precisely for our next generation. I encourage all people to cycle regularly to not only improve their health but also help reduce pollution levels. Let us all do our bit towards saving the environment.”
Apratim from Akriti Photography said, “ The involvement of the youth is the need of the hour as the future lies on their shoulders”.
Air pollution has become one of the largest killers in the world today. Almost seven million people die prematurely each year due to this silent killer – three times more than AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined.
Speaking at the event, Ajay Mittal of Kolkata Clean Air said, “The effects of air pollution are the last warning we are receiving from our planet, much like the final signals our body gives during last stages of cancer. If we ignore them this time, it will cause irreversible damage to life on this planet.”
Vinay Jau of Switch ON, one of the event organisers said, “In the times of polluted air and climate change, Kolkata needs to rediscover the ingenuity of the humble cycle. Making cycling safe and convenient should be a top priority of the government and motorists.”
“The humble cycle is a great way to commute – with no pollution or Carbon emissions. Life on planet is at risk due to climate change and we must reverse it. Kolkata should look at developing infrastructure to support cycles with the vision to make Kolkata one of the most liveable and climate-friendly cities in the world,” he added.
Source: Times of India