FIRST EVER KASHMIR BICYCLE MOVEMENT LAUNCHED IN SRINAGAR
In my childhood I would find more bicycles running on the streets and narrow lanes of Srinagar, than tose of the present days plus a sizable number of pedestrians and a few tongas driven by horse. Later Govt. buses were introduced, which would charge an Anna (one sixteenth of a rupee) as fare. The other name of Anna was ‘pond’ and the buses were called ‘ponda-bus’. Most of the time the buses would wait for long for the passengers to board and overloading was a rare chance. Once an elder neighbor of mine gave me lift on the carrier of his cycle. By chance my back foot got peeled off by the spokes of his bike and it took many days to cure it. By this I developed a fear about the cycle. However during my degree engineering course in Annamalai University South India, I felt the need of cycle as our college was about 2 kms. away from our hostel. I bought a bicycle in 1960 and used it all the three years in the University and carried it to Kashmir in my train journey back and used it here too for a pretty long time. I developed such an affinity with this bicycle that I did not use the other one gifted to me by my in-laws till that one got rusted for disposal to a kabbadi. Later my son also used this bicycle for some time. However due to availability of alternate vehicular transport, I gave up this mode of transport and it is after about half a century now that I have reverted to cycling by buying a bicycle and visiting nearby areas. The idea of buying the bicycle was that of Irfan my son, who had arranged a stationery cycle for me to have indoor exercise after my open heart surgery in 2009, which again was the result of my sedentary way of life for a year or so. The other day I drove the bicycle first time after about 50 years for a distance of 06 kms. in the early wee hours and it made me to recall my college days and the peace I used to experience by riding a bicycle simultaneously enjoying the surroundings.
On seeing this new cycle bought by me, Gowhar my other son clicked the idea of starting the Kashmir Bicycle Movement and within two days imagine, he could muster 200 fans for this idea on his face book and this is how the first event of Zalgur-1 on Northern Foreshore Road of Dal Lake on 22nd June, 2013, took its birth with over a dozen participants to be followed by many more such events, till it grows into a mass movement Insha- Allah!
Gowhar Fazili and others have posted on face-book:
01.Have you ever come across an old man on the roads of Srinagar. The man goes with the name Kamal-ud-din Andrabi. He must be centenarian now. He used to pedal around slowly on his bicycle, wearing his achkan and topi when I was a child and proud owner of a small cycle myself. Even those days he was very old and had a long white beard that was peculiarly pointed and twisted on the end. I am told he still goes about on his cycle, though his speed is further reduced.
Through those nightmarish years of militancy — winter and summer he kept riding on his bicycle unfazed. Though I am told he did not live very far from our home, his distances were of a different order… for he had been sighted riding in other districts of Kashmir too — as far from my place as Khannabal(50kms)andBandipora.
He, and people like him are the inspiration for this page
02.Did you know that in the original plans the Northern Foreshore Road from Naseem Bagh to Nishaat was supposed to be a pedestrian mall/ cycle track till it was replaced by a two track motor able road by the policy makers?
03. Today I rode a cycle after a long time. I rode about 3 kms to and fro from Soura and bought some medicine. Such distances should not require cars. I realized it has been a long time since I rode a cycle in Kashmir… about 20 years! I recalled how wonderful it used to be when I was younger. As kids we used to cycle around and steal apples and swim in a small rivulet. As I grew older, once a dear friend of mine and I took a thirty-five kilometer circuit through the paddy-fields and wilderness, past the water bodies and hills, through the lake with our cycles in a boat and back home. We only ate tsochiweir and drank lassi on the way and we managed it fine. The year was 1990, the army was all around but we were oblivious of it and did not care two hoots. That day will remain etched on my mind for ever
04. One very important concern of this movement is how to make cycling safe for women in Kashmir. How do we create a culture that men don’t trouble women while they ride and experience the freedom. How do we create a culture that is respectful of women? We will need all your suggestions in this regard
05. One track we can reclaim is the Pipe Bund that bifurcates Dal Lake from Naidyar Old Bridge to Nishat It could be an ideal cycle track. It could be the site for our first cyclothon. But a few of us should go for a reccee and check if the track is in good repair. We would also know the status of inner areas of Dal Lake in the process.
06. One town where I saw cycling in vogue was in Roorkie. Everyone, the professors, the students as well as the town around the campus used cycles. Somehow the cars had not become a status symbol in the town.
07. One track we can reclaim is the Pipe Bund that bifurcates Dal Lake from Naidyar Old Bridge to Nishat It could be an ideal cycle track. It could be the site for our first cyclothon. But a few of us should go for a recee and check if the track is in good repair. We would also know the status of inner areas of Dal Lake in the process.
08. The movement promotes bicycles and cycling, because it is healthy, ecologically sound and stylistically cool. It brings us closer to people and nature, reduces dependence on money and carbon fuels, does least damage to the environment and gives us a sense of Azadi (freedom)
09. Let us start a cycle renting service for tourists so that they leave their cars in the parking. ‘You can only appreciate Kashmir at the cycle pace.
10. While riding on the Naseem Bagh – Buchpora road I smelt the smells from my childhood transporting me some 25 years back in time. I realized though the place has transformed spectacularly — all the orchards of Hazratbali Apple are totally lost to housing –there are some green patches left and on those patches there are some residual trees and a couple of kids were still stealing fruit after school
11. Thank you dear Kashmiri brothers and sisters the Bicycle Movement has crossed 200 in two days. Let us hope these numbers reflect on the roads when we take out our cycles in a group.
“I would like to congratulate the admin’s of this page for initiating such a great movement. If a success (I personally am positive about it), it will be a huge leap towards improvement of healthy thinking (in many ways) for the people of our place.
12. A note of appreciation from Shazia Naqshbandi:
I have visited more than 18 cities in different countries and envy when I see people, almost all around the developed world using bicycles for transportation, from all walks of life and of varied status and professions. I would always think when will people of our country also realizes this. I wanted to do something in this direction. But I don’t presently living in Kashmir. Then the fear of the way people think of those who live outside Kashmir stops me,esp. people would go like ‘Ha aye yem wane ‘aamerica’ peteh ase-hechnavne’.
I am very, very glad to see this happening. What is important, is someone initiate this no matter who, as far as it is initiated with a honest motive and serve a good purpose.
In short, the reason of this long message is, I am really happy about this and want to say all the best.
P S: I would be more than happy, if I can help in some way for the cause.
13. Mohd Shafi Sahib of the United Cycle Works liked the idea of The Kashmir Bicycle Movement. He is not just a bicycle shop owner but a cycling enthusiast in his own right. I remembered having bought my first RMI branded cycle from the same sh…See More
Mohd Shafi Sahib of the United Cycle Works liked the idea of The Kashmir Bicycle Movement. He is not just a bicycle shop owner but a cycling enthusiast in his own right. I remembered having bought my first RMI branded cycle from the same shop when I was a small kid. Do introduce the best Cycle shops in your neighborhood and also the people associated with them so that we establish a personal rapport with them and harness them for promotion of cycling.
14. As cyclists and cycle lovers, we need to be grateful to the community of “cycle-khaars”, (sum1 translate it into English), they have traditionally been cycle mechanics or menders, even today we need to go to them for air pumps.
Lets celebrate these skilled workers…!
15. Some begin early!
The kids lead the way, all the way! They did some ten kilometers without a complaint! They are the future of the Movement! Proud of you Wamik and Qadeem. You are brave boys! Photo Credits: Jasim Malik
16. Our man Wali Jeelani broke his foot yesterday because he was trying to cycle after decades. Regardless he came to cheer us up. Since I was too exited I was on the starting line an hour earlier than suggested. He was the next one to come and express his solidarity for the movement. He stayed with us all along and provided great company and transport to others who had come to cheer us up. A really humble and unassuming man and yet so motivating!
17. The man with the classiest bike. He rides it everyday to the university from his home and I am sure on many adventures around the valley! If you need advice on purchasing cycles, he his the man
18. My dad was the earliest to wake up and join us for the trip. He kept motivating us with his stories about his earliest cycle experiences
19. This team that arrived all the way from the other end of the city Rawalpora, Rajbag etc via Dalgate was too camera shy so you will not find many of their face-to-face photos. Yet they covered around 40 kilometers to and fro from their homes. There is hope in Kashmiri legs.
20. Our one and only Maria Hearty was there for us at the start as well as the finish line. She promised tea that never came But her presence was good enough! What is more, she is inspired to buy new bicycles for her whole family.
21. Our man Fayaz Dar not only rode on his black beauty gracefully he also pushed along another cycle that had a puncture over a great distance. Now that requires acrobatic skills and goes beyond the brief of a cyclist.
22. Zaffar was so miffed following the episode, he went straight home and did not care to spend any more time with us! I think his cycle was rude! It must have been some old issue between the two…
Sad for Zaffar his cycling lasted exactly for the length of this video before he had a puncture. Teaching us that cycles, like horses have their own minds and that we as a team should carry solutions with us on the next Zalgur event.
23. I was thinking that Kashmir Bicycle Movement is a great antidote to the phenomenon we call ‘clicktivism’ It is a form of activism in which a person feels that he has done a great deed by simply liking like for support or signing ones name on a petition. Cycling involves slogging. It means you have to miss your morning sleep to join your friends at some distance and carry your own burden. Associate with your fellows and make sure they all get to the destination safely. It builds bonds with real people who can then carry out other useful humanitarian or political causes with real love and commitment towards society.
24. Not to forget our dearest Adil Hamid Kaloo who not only posed with a cycle, he expressed his deepest regrets for not getting his cycle along and atoned by paying for the refreshments getting his cycle along and atoned by paying for the refreshments
25, For a few hours NFR was reclaimed by the cyclist citizens of Kashmir restoring the road to its original purpose of making it somewhat human, bird, fish and insect friendly
26. I request the participants to share their own reflections and visuals if any on the event and also tell us how to make them better. This will help us improve things in future and also to inspire others and provide a kind of community to other lone cyclists in Kashmir and let them know they are no longer alone.
While we deserve all the fun we can have, we should always remember that this group has a larger goal and a commitment towards making Kashmir pedestrian and cyclist friendly regardless of their gender and class and in the process instill collective responsibility towards our home – Kashmir
27. Kashmir Bicycle Movement aims to reclaim streets of Kashmir for people, displace cars and restore pride in riding bicycles.
The movement promotes bicycles and cycling, because it is healthy, ecologically sound and stylistically cool. It brings us closer to people and nature, reduces dependence on money and carbon fuels, does least damage to the environment and gives us a sense of Azadi (freedom).
Strategies & Objectives:
– Reclaim certain tracks, paths, lanes exclusively for walking and cycling.
– Identify routes that are still fit for cycling and promote their use and protection.
– Carry out mass cycling events and expeditions.
– Build a knowledge base about the history of cycling in Kashmir and its high points
– Chronicle landmarks, facilities, shops where cycles can be bought, hired or repaired.
– Promote institutional use of cycles in various campuses, like the university, the engineering college etc where cycles may be lent from car parking/ the gate to various departments.
– Lobby for pedestrian and cycle friendly development.
– Change attitudes make people proud of cycling.
(Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili)