The Bicycle Mayor Program is not a government-sanctioned position in the local government as one might think. Rather, it is an honourary four-year position that is part of a global program envisioned by Amsterdam-based NGO BYCS, with the aim of accelerating the progress of cycling in cities and ensuring at least 50% of transport in cities using cycles by 2030.

This global program seeks to help coordinate efforts between the local cycling community, government, and non-profits, by appointing prominent bicyclists at the local level to head the effort. Bicycle Mayors are the human face and voice of cycling advocacy in a city. The program connects these change-makers across a global network to create greater visibility and facilitate the sharing of knowledge, ideas, challenges, and solutions to create a truly radical shift.

There are currently around 40 Bicycle Mayors in India, with another dozen waiting in the wings. With the aim of having at least one Bicycle Mayor in each State in India.

The Bicycle Mayor program has thrived in India as it is much easier to push legislation when there is an identifiable face to champion the cause. According to Sonal Kulkarni, Director of Strategic Partnerships at BYCS India – Politicians and bureaucrats in India have started to give the Bicycle Mayor greater importance, seeking their advice with many public infrastructure projects, notably in cities like Bangalore and Delhi.

Bike Racks on Public Buses! Initiative by Bangalore Bicycle Mayor Sathya Sankaran

That is why Bicycle Mayors in India serve a term of 4 years, as compared to their global counterparts who serve 2-year terms. As gaining significant political traction and legitimacy is a steady process in India which takes time to mature.

These changemakers are represented in diverse locations, including in large metros such as Mumbai and Bangalore, to smaller towns like Palakkad and Udaipur.

Each with their own unique challenges and opportunities for change – and together they are showing how accelerating cycling, can bring social, environmental and economic progress to any city, anywhere.

Collectively, the Bicycle Mayors demonstrate how an active, dynamic network, with the ability to put a face to the movement, can address complex issues while making tangible gains for their communities.

The Indian Bicycle Mayors currently represent the largest group in one single country and are also made up of a majority of women, challenging stereotypes and empowering an entire generation of Indian women to take up bicycling.

Some of India’s Bicycle Mayors

The Bicycle Mayor Program is an example for the world and has the power to make India the largest cycle friendly nation in the years to come.

Candidates are carefully selected through an application process, seeking to choose the most proactive, and capable individuals who can spearhead green and cycle-friendly initiatives at the local and state levels.

If you think you have what it takes, apply to become a Bicycle Mayor!

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About the Author

Ayush Kundu

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING: I love the freedom which comes with riding a bike. On my Hardtail MTB , nothing is an obstacle, I seamlessly flow down trails and through traffic like water in a river. And that flow gives me immense satisfaction and the continued drive to get back on my bike the next day. DISCIPLINE: Mountain Biking & Commuting CURRENT BIKE: Marin Bolinas Ridge Disc DREAM BIKE: Cannondale TOPSTONE Carbon Lefty 3

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