June 2, 2019 05:00 AM NPT
By: Sonam Lama
KATHMANDU, June 2: With global reports declaring Kathmandu as one of the most polluted cities in Asia, a group of about 230 cyclists took to the streets to celebrate the 2nd World Bicycle Day which is observed on June 3, and advocated cycle-friendly lanes. The cyclists who came from different age groups organized the rally (around 25km), starting from the Basantapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu on Saturday morning.
Organized by Nepal Cycle Society in coordination with Lalitpur Metropolitan City, the gathering aimed at raising awareness on the alarming air pollution and cutting on vehicle emission through constructing bicycle-friendly lanes especially in Lalitpur and Kathmandu cities.
One of the participants, Laxmi Gurung, 37, said that switching to a cycle is one of the smartest moves she feels proud to have taken seven years ago. “The longest ride I have ever taken was Kathmandu-Sindhuligadhi-Janakpur and the way back quite some time ago. Cycling is a daily part of living now and I feel rejuvenated to do it every day,” said Gurung.
Another participant, Betangsu Dhakal, 15, started cycling looking up to one of his seniors at his school. “It is just the last week that I participated in a cycle rally and I feel more energetic to join this one again,” said Dhakal.
With environment degradation and global warming debate heating up globally, many countries have taken the lead to following eco-friendly attempts worldwide. In April 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared 3 June as the World Bicycle Day which was observed as a landmark approach to promote the eco-friendly and sustainable means of transportation globally.
“The carbon monoxide gases emitted by the vehicles and factories end up being dumped into the lungs of the city residents. So, it is high time that we constructed cycle-friendly lanes in the city areas,” opined world cyclist Pushkar Shah. “Since the major cities are located at a shortly reachable distance and with the temperature and geographical terrains highly suitable for cycling, necessary lanes for cyclists are a must. It would not only regale the professionals but also encourage the amateurs to follow suit,” added Shah.
“Building cycle lanes and switching to cycling not just has health benefits, it can also help minimize road accidents to a large extent,” said Indira Rana Magar, 49, one of the participants who has been taking up the sport since her early childhood.
From lifting a ban on 20-year-old public vehicles to making policies and installing Air Quality Monitors (AQMs) at three city stations, the government has taken a few steps to cut on carbon emissions that have contributed to reducing air pollution. “Lalitpur Metropolitan City is further planning to allocate a cycle-friendly lane in the Lalipur area. Events as such become important to remind the authorities to step up progressive policies that are sustainable in the long-run,” said Rakesh Maharjan, secretary at Nepal Cycle Society.