Even one year ago, the idea of Hyderabad taking to cycling seemed like a hopelessly utopian dream. But no longer. More and more people are succumbing to the obvious appeal of the healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle. “Hyderabad was originally a cycling city. People gave cycles in dowry, once upon a time! But then came the scooters and motorcycles before it finally became car crazy. But now slowly, I think, there seems to be a reverse trend in action,” says ace photographer and avid cyclist Arvind Chenji. A recent convert, Radha Sindhiya, a commercial tax officer, started riding a few months ago and is hooked. “Not only is it a great workout, but also a whole lot of fun and a great way to make friends. It’s no surprise that there are so many people, including women, who are taking to cycling in the City now.” But if there need be any further proof, this is it. Following the roaring success of its first bike station at Sanjeevaiah Park, the Hyderabad Bicycle Club (HBC) is now gearing up to launch a state-of-the-art facility in the Hitec City area. With an estimated investment of `1.5 crore, the new facility is expected to be a significant upgrade from the existing one.
Apart from being fully equipped with a sizeable number of bikes, it will also have swipe machines, pre-paid cards and amenities such as a food court, rest-rooms and more. “Our aim is to make Hyderabad the most cycle-friendly city in the country. And we’re doing everything we can to promote the idea. We expect the second one, to open in Hitec City in the coming months, to become an eco-friendly and healthy alternative transit system for residents and employees in the area. We are looking at opening half a dozen stations in the City within the next year,” says DV Manohar, president of the HBC. With the aid of a valid ID proof, anyone can rent a bike for a nominal price, to be returned to the station at the stipulated time. Currently, the Sanjeevaiah Park bike station allows only for a two-hour window (from 5-7am and 5-7pm) for cyclists to rent the bikes. Once the Hitec facility comes up, the bikes will be available throughout the day, promises HBC. All these plans are at the mercy of the GHMC, which has the responsibility of building 23km of cycle tracks. “They were supposed to be completed last year, around the time of CoP-11. But that didn’t happen. Only around 10-15 per cent of the work is done. Hopefully, it will finish in the next couple of months,” he adds.