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Old 01-12-03, 07:03 AM   #1
iluvbiking
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Cycling dying a slow death in India. :-(

Hi all,

Cycling in India was once an important mode of transport not anymore. With the growing number of motorised vehicles especially two wheelers, had also grown the problems associated with them which was unforeseen or unheard of even in the recent past.

The recent explosion in the automobile traffic in India has been seeded, watered and tended for by three main factors: industrial growth, need for anything faster than a bicycle and the prestige and safety associated with riding a bike(yep, its one of the main factors).

The results are overwhelming and shockingly visible, air pollution in cities is so high that SPM(suspended particluate matter) and CO2 in the air hovers at several folds well above the permissible limit. There still are a large number of cycles on the road, but most of them are driven by the daily wage labourers and poor people for whom the bicycle is the nearest affordable mode of transport and their future goal like other well-off masses is to shift to a motor bike.

The pressure for changing from a bike to motorbike is so high that in my company i am constantly urged with an attractive loan package to buy one for commuting.

Turning on to the safety aspect of bicycling, the less said the better. Combined with the pedestrians and the motorcyclists, cyclists form the highest number of casualities on the roads and this is the reason why a significant mass had shifted towards automobiles.

Another ramificatin of this disturbing trend is the increase in widespread use of motorcycles by college students. With most of the colleges located outside cities and minmal public transport infrastructure the students are resorted to riding the dingy motorcycles. There are no safety regulations on roads for helping students commute to school and as a result students riding on bikes are doing so under a great personal risk.

I have been trying to convince people about the advantages of combining bicycles with public transportation but its always difficult to convince people who think they're always standing on thin ice and have no time for matters as simple and unimportant like these. God help me and my people.

regards
srinipartha
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Old 01-13-03, 06:20 AM   #2
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Oh no!!! I hope that does not happen! When I was on my world tour, India was my favorite country for cycling!

I hope what will happen is India will end up with a mixed transportation system: cars and motorbikes to get around, Buses in the cities, privatized railways for longer journeys, and shanks mare for short distances. And last but not least, bicycles for recreation as well as reasonable commuting. I did a massive tour of India when i was goinga round the world and loved it.

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Old 01-13-03, 09:44 PM   #3
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Seems China is also following the "developed" countries.

China and India are the two most populous countries on the earth, accounting for (I don't know...) about, what, 30% of the world's population?

And to think the U.S. sucks such a huge portion of the world's energy resources.
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Old 01-15-03, 10:11 AM   #4
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well, i've never actually been to India, but i think this is about what i have heard and what i would expect considering the way the world is going...

i was in Thailand and Indonesia and Taiwan and Malaysia in 2000 and it is the same: very few bicylces and those who do ride are a) poor and b) older, while younger people ride motorbikes and older peope "demonstrate" their success by driving cars...

i just spent 2 weeks in Russia in Dec02/Jan03 and although cycling was never huge there, the explosion of cars and consumerism is unbelievable... in a place where the average income is $300/month a large number of people on the street have the newest cell phone, expensive cars and high-fashion clothing. a Russian friend that i visited in Moscow got married about 6 months ago and he and his new wife SHARE a bedroom with his parents in a 42sq meter 2-room apartment (about 420sq feet for Americans) and the 2 grandmothers sleep in the other room. now what is so ridiculous is that he does this because he cannot "afford" the $20k to buy an apartment, YET he has just spent $7k on a new car, has a cell phone and they wear designer-label clothes... and b/c the trafic is so bad he could actually get to work faster using the Metro... (but the Metro isn't cool as a car is)... and they limit that they may have to wait months or years until they can afford thier own apartment... amazing! (i like my parents but i would be saving every penny to move out if i had to share a bedroom and definitely would not buy an expensive car to demonstrate my success and status)

although there may be a good side to it, the negative side to the rapidly growing capitalism and consumerism of the West that is now spreading to the developing world and the former communist areas is that people are becomming selfish, pollution is horrible and reasonable things like cycling and traditional culture are dying b/c they aren't "cool" and marks of "success and wealth"...

so most likely in India, cycling will maintain the image of being worhtless and only for the "have-nots" until a counter-culture begins to develop as in the US - where people are HAPPY and PROUD to get out of their cars and ride a bike and feel PRIVELEDGED to have the opportunity to do so (i know i do)... Portland Oregon has this attitude and often when a car driver sees a cyclist they think not "poor soul who can't afford a car", but "wow, i wish i could be doing that instead of trapped in my car!"

keep riding!
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Old 01-15-03, 11:28 AM   #5
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Hi Nathank,

although there may be a good side to it, the negative side to the rapidly growing capitalism and consumerism of the West that is now spreading to the developing world and the former communist areas is that people are becomming selfish, pollution is horrible and reasonable things like cycling and traditional culture are dying b/c they aren't "cool" and marks of "success and wealth"...

What an observation...! kudos! in my native tounge "sonna vaaikku sarkari podunga(meaning: give that a person a lump of sugar for having said something good)"

Yes, it is exactly the same...recently i had a few guests at home who were less than happy to learn that i still pedal my way to office and back and use the same for other errands as well.

Westerners would be quite surprised to know the following they have for their culture(western culture is very good), but they lose rational thinking while doing so for e.g, its best to follow western culture in democracy, justice, women's empowerment etc, but way of life, daily habits and other aspects need not be changed.

waiting for more observations

regards
srinipartha
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Old 01-15-03, 11:32 AM   #6
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hi all,

sorry for this error wile typing:

"Westerners would be quite surprised to know the following they have for their culture(western culture is very good), but they lose rational thinking while doing so..."

In the phrase "...but they lose rational thinking.." i meant people of my country and not the western people.

cheers.
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Old 01-15-03, 08:35 PM   #7
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Until I heard of Chinese municipal officials talking of bicycle traffic as making their cities look "backwards," I used to think that there were no stupid Chinese. Looks like there are.
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Old 01-16-03, 05:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by iluvbiking
[B]Hi Nathank,

although there may be a good side to it, the negative side to the rapidly growing capitalism and consumerism of the West that is now spreading to the developing world and the former communist areas is that people are becomming selfish, pollution is horrible and reasonable things like cycling and traditional culture are dying b/c they aren't "cool" and marks of "success and wealth"...
Oh for petes sakes stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe all it means is that they wish to transport their heavy goods to market a little bit more easily than overloading a ton of junk on the back of a bike and hoofing it a few kilometers down pockmarked roads. If there is one thing that is just so <i>pathetic</i> about communists in general and environmentalists in particular, it is the absolute comtempt they have for any one's desire to make life easier and better for themselves. Nothing prevents you from holding onto this <i> idyllic, paradise lifestyle</i> if you wish to do so. In the meantime, do not grudge others the choice of alternate trasnportation and standard of living.

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Old 01-16-03, 01:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Roughstuff
Oh for petes sakes stop looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Did you mention my name?

Seriously, the more developed countries (economically and technologically speaking) are leading the way in cleaner energy.
Since we in the West use a great deal more fuel, we have found it necessary to use cleaner-burning fuels and other types of energy efficiently.

I only hope China and India are able to follow that pattern. The biggest problem with technologically emerging countries seems to be that the poverty and great need for a higher living standard
forces them to skimp on energy conservation and efficient fuels, which are very expensive. But let's face it: the ecological damage
that is resulting from, for example, the Chinese industrial explosion, is extreme, especially since they lack our regulations for clean air, water, etc. In Brazil, rainforests are leveled at an alarming rate--the underlying soil is not very deep, making erosion
a real possibility.

Growth and progress are blessings, but responsible stewardship of our limited natural resources is a must if we want our grandchildren to have the good things we enjoy.
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Old 02-19-03, 08:18 AM   #10
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It would seem that there have been major changes in India towards cleaner fuel.

I'm told that a couple of years ago in Delhi the pollution was choking. You would walk outside and be covered in black.

I was there for the last couple of weeks and while the air is nowhere near the clean variety I'm used ot in Australia, it wasn't much of a problem.

The government has forced a change over to compressed natural gas on most vehicles.
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Old 02-20-03, 02:01 PM   #11
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It would seem that there have been major changes in India towards cleaner fuel.

Yeah...I saw compressed natural gas vehicles when i was there, and lets hope they have more.

but the main thing would be to get rid of the two stroke tuk-tuks and motorbikes that people bop around on. The smoke and fumes coming out the back are so incompletely combusted they are a bluish tinge and smell clearly like the original fuel. Although more expensive, the 4 stroke water cooled motorbikes would work like a charm.


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Old 03-27-03, 09:53 PM   #12
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I've heard that in Africa it is worse ; there are only two modes of transport - you either drive a Merc, or you walk.
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Old 03-28-03, 10:23 AM   #13
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Actually, Peugeots are quite popular in Africa....
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