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Every working day when Father Albert William sets out on his bicycle from his home inside Loyola campus at 8 a.m., it is not hard to guess where he is. “Students and staff easily recognise me and my old bicycle… I do not lock it,” says the 57-year-old, who is the vice-principal (finance) of the college.
With only a few members of the staff and students riding bicycle on campus, the ‘father on wheels' is easy to spot as he pedals from building to building on the eco-friendly bike that he has been using since 2001. “Being the campus treasurer, where I am in charge of the nine units under Loyola, I find my cycle the best mode'', he says.
The dream of riding a bicycle on dedicated cycle tracks might have taken a backseat for residents of Chennai with the Anna Nagar cycle track project hitting a roadblock. But, the least that institutions, townships and corporate houses with sprawling campuses can do is encouraging some non-motorised form of transport on their premises.
IIT-Madras has approximately 8,000 students studying on the campus and more or less most students make sure they own a bicycle. Every year, between July and August when a new batch of students arrives, the Institute organises a ‘mela' in which bicycle manufacturers participate. Students usually get a nominal discount. If a student does not want to buy a new bicycle, there are other options available. “A large number of students sell bicycles to their juniors, a small section donates it and a few leave it and go. We also have an auction process,” says L.S. Ganesh, Dean (Students), IIT-Madras.
Since the last academic year, Loyola College also defined ‘vehicle-free zones' at various blocks on the 90-plus-acre campus. It plans to purchase bicycles for students to move within blocks.
Infosys business centre in Mahindra World City, Chengalpet, is among the few corporate houses that discourage any motorised form of transport on their campus. Unless an employee is unwell, no motorised transport is entertained and to shield staff from the sun's rays umbrellas are placed at many corners, says a software professional.
Raghuram Devarakonda, president (TI Cycles & BSA Motors), TI Cycles of India, says enhancing the buying experience by setting up a shop close to a campus, providing quality products and conducting cycle-related events should promote the eco-friendly mode of transport among more youth.