Several months ago, I made a resolution to cycle and walk as much as possible, and not take out the car unless absolutely necessary. This, however, has led me into all sorts of problems:
Dogs chase me as I cycle. These are NOT stray dogs but “pets”. Dog bite injections are a VERY expensive way to pay for someone else’s craving for aggression.
I inhale LOTS of fumes and smoke from vehicle exhausts, not to mention literally eating the dust of vehicles on our foully-maintained roads. My heart may be in excellent shape, but my lungs must be two sacs full of grime and benzene-compound particles. What shall it profit me to have a sound heart if I am to develop some disease of the lungs?
I am jolted unmercifully by all the potholes, and realize truly how bad the roads of Bangalore are. Four wheels, a suspension and shock absorbers really don’t tell me the reality of a pothole as two slim wheels do.
I find cyclists are perceived to be from a lower income bracket and treated in a shabby manner by everyone on the road; policemen think nothing of cuffing a young man on a cycle for some small infringement of traffic rules. I cower down, expecting to be clouted next.
In the twenty first century, a lady cyclist (no matter that I am middle-aged) is enough to draw cheap, sexist comments that I have to ignore and pretend not to hear.
There is no security for the stuff that I buy or have with me, and I am forced to take it along with me into various shops.
All that said, the pluses are:
Definitely, my cardiovascular system is in much better shape now, and my legs are developing strength.
Parking, or turning, is not a problem anymore; nor do I find myself stuck in lines of traffic.
Having struggled up the slopes, it is SUCH fun to go wheeling down them.
Once over the novelty of it, shopkeepers in the area near my home have accepted me and I am often able to leave my cycle unlocked as I go about my chores.
Cycling really opens my eyes to my surroundings in a way that I cannot do in a fast-moving car. I take in the sights and sounds, and generally enjoy them.
There is a lot of satisfaction that I am trying to counter the traffic pollution, and am actively doing something about it.
When Bangalore has better roads (not just the main ones, but the small ones too)…and encourages cyclists….I will be a happy person.