Long road to cycle home
There were heart rending images of people rushing to their home villages in the wake of pandemic and prolonged lockdown in May-June this year with thousands if not lakhs of people commuting mind boggling thousand plus km on rickety biccyles (even there was onecase reported where the person concerned actually stole the cycle from an unsuspecting middle class owner of the two wheeler to reach home only to return the cycle through parcel service with an apology note later
These cyclists are not exception but they seem to be the rule in the rural areas. Two people whom I met in the past few weeks at least made me realise there is serious commuting is being done on the back of cycles by some. One was a cycle repair shop person Rajinder varma who informed me that he had just returned from his village near Madanpur. Well, the town he was talking about was some good 1500 km away from Delhi, not to mention another 60 odd km trudging to reach the actual hometown.
The trip he says is routine and he goes to the village at least once or twice a year, a round trip of 3000 km without fail. "I pack food for five days it takes to reach my village or vice versa" he says. Sleeping happens on the way at some wayside Dabbha or Inn or under some tree, he says gleefully.
"What is the way to Hindon airport sir?" someone stopped me this morning while cycling a 60 km stretch to chattarpur and back from east delhi. The question intriqued as the person who asked looked like a teenager on a simple Hero cycle. "You simply have to follow this road till you reach the place where there would be a aeroplane perched on a stick and there you take a left and then a right and ride upto 8 km from there you will reach the airport " I replied. And helpfully added "the place is very far from here. Are you sure you want to ride that far?"
The boy replied that "sir i need to reach the Hindon river bridge and I will follow the side of the river on an unpaved path for about 110 km to reach my village"
I was simply taken aback by the reply. Sensing my shock he added helpfully "Dont worry sir I do this every two months. Only this time I have taken a different route to the Hindon river which is why I am confused"
Well, it turns out Vinod Kumar is a scrap dealer at his father's shack and his family is located in the village. "Cycling is fun sir, I wouldreach before the Sun is down", he says confidently. It takes around 5 hours to reach the place going at a fair pace, he explains
Vinod kumar's of the world abound in the country and all they needed a safe passage on the road which is not guaranteed. A recent newspaper report says at least 70 cyclists died owing to fatal accidents in delhi alone. What is needed is cycle lane and safety.