This New Year, Toffee Insurance is back with its Toffee Chronicles, a series featuring and celebrating the unconventional lovers of life!
Today we feature Nikita Lalwani,
The Bicycle Mayor of Baroda.
If you’re wondering what that means, here is a quick introduction-
The Bicycle Mayor & Leader Program is a global initiative by an Amsterdam based social organisation named BYCS to accelerate the progress of cycling in cities. BYCS is driven by the belief that bicycles transform cities and cities transform the world. Their mission is called “50 by 30” i.e. half of all city trips by bike by 2030.
So what’s the big deal in being one?
Well, it is a big deal considering that Nikita was not only the first Bicycle Mayor from India, but she was also the first in all of Asia! We exclusively had a small one-on-one with Baroda’s Bicycle Mayor, only to find her more inspiring than we could’ve imagined.
“What does being The Bicycle Mayor of Baroda mean really? How has the journey been so far?”
“I became Bicycle Mayor of Baroda and First Bicycle Mayor from India in May 2017. Bicycle Mayor means working towards a sustainable and happy city by promoting cycle, a zero-emission & most friendly mode of commute in the city.”
“The journey has been an exciting one as this gave me the opportunity to meet decision-makers and other stakeholders and have discussions on how cycling can be reintroduced in the city, to make it a go-to option for inter-city commute.”
What inspired you to apply for the position of Bicycle Mayor of your city?
“I have been a cycling-to-work champion for the last 4 years. I decided to opt for cycling as I wanted to adopt a healthy way of commute without impacting the environment. Also, I found it more economical. After I started cycling, it inspired many more people at my workplace to pursue their passion for cycling. After interacting with a lot of cyclists and other stakeholders in the city, I was motivated to apply for the position of Bicycle Mayor. I wanted to promote cycling culture and build a community around it so that cycle commute can become mainstream for all. The role of the bicycle mayor has been providing me with many opportunities to learn from global leaders and be exposed to cycling initiatives.”
What was it like to be the first to represent India globally at the Bicycle Mayor and Leader Summit in Amsterdam?
What difference did you notice between the cycling cultures of the 2 places?
“Representing India at such a level is an overwhelming experience. Amsterdam is one of the meccas of cycling around the globe. The citizens embrace cycling because it is the fastest and most economical way of commuting in the city. The city promotes healthy cycling culture through friendly infrastructure. Cyclists needs are prioritised there unlike cities in India where they are pushed on the edges.”
Tell us something about the TRING initiative. Who started it and why?
“TRING is (TRy CyclING ). It was a pilot started at my own company- Linde Engineering India, German MNC, where we gave out cycles with helmets to people to try it out for a few days or weeks at very nominal rates. We gave initial support to the rider or took them for their first-hand holding ride. The pilot involved people from my workplace and after the initial trial of 6 months we opened it for the public”
We heard you’re currently working developing the Cycling Cities initiative to connect cyclists across geographies, what’s its plan ahead?
Is it true that you fund the initiative from your savings?
“Yes, it is true that I fund the Cycling cities from my own savings. I have invested a good amount of money in developing cycling cities mobile app. We will be adding more features to the app, will be tying up with big brands in the country as well as different global cities.”
Well, we truly are in the awe of this power-woman who is tackling the ignorance towards cyclists in the city head-on. More power to women like her!!
Like Nikita, we at Toffee Insurance believe in promoting a safe and healthy cycling culture.
3 Cheers for the Bicycle Mayor of Baroda: