Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cycling your way to health

Long time ago I remember reading an article in a Sunday newspaper that China have taken the initiative to use cycle as a source of improving health in urban areas. In cities like Beijing and Shanghai  many of the corporate offices are located in the city center and the staff working in these offices are expected to leave their automobiles 5 kilometers from their office. Bicycles that are parked at such vantage points have to be used by these people to reach their offices. They also have the option to walk down to the office instead of bicycling. In some cities of the United States of America, Government has given special tax incentives to those who use a bicycle as the primary mode of transport to reach their place of work.
There is an immense benefit to the human body by using a cycle to travel 10 kilometers everyday. Firstly, you cut down the fat accumulation, fight obesity, improve the body metabolism and get relieved of the stress. Cutting down the fuel usage reduces the burden on the state to exhaust natural resources like petrol and gasoline. Then there is reduction in the atmospheric pollution i.e., less smoke pollution and noise pollution too. An interesting phenomenon observed in the Chinese people over the last decade is that the average height over the last generation has increased by 10 centimeter, though I very much doubt that this is because of cycling alone. It is no  wonder that cycle manufacturers produce 50 billion cycles worldwide every year compared to 20 million new automobiles added every year.
We can certainly emulate the cycle model in India particularly in urban metros and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolatta etc and even the bigger towns also. The only facility that the Government needs to provide is sufficient place for the bikers to travel without fear of being trampled by the bigger automobiles. Let corporates be given special incentives like tax cuts for biking to office, special pay for using cycles, some awards and recognition in the newspapers and television for reducing the burden on resources like petrol and diesel. And the fund so saved on transportation expenses by the corporates can be used for developing walking zones and green zones. Let there be restriction on movement of automobiles during certain time period of the day. This can be done on a trial basis by disallowing any automobile on the road for one specified hour everyday. This can certainly go a long way in improving our physical and mental health as well as the financial health of the people as well as the Government alike.
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