I am Dr. Arul Vijaykumar, a Heart Surgeon by profession and a cyclist by passion. After completing my training abroad I returned 5 years back to my home town. I initially took up cycling in my city Tirunelveli to meet and greet old friends. That habit slowly became part of my fabric and I started doing group rides in and around Tirunelveli. Nowadays, I promote cycling in my city both for commuting and for exploring new places in schools and educational institutions.
How would you describe your mission?
My mission in my city is to promote cycling as a healthy and happy alternative to using buses and cars to commute to schools, colleges and workplaces. I would like to do this both by enforcing cycle-safe routes in the city and carbon-free areas around the schools. I also believe in the value of educating the students about the benefits of cycling to have a long-lasting outcome.
What are the obstacles and challenges you’re facing in your city?
The obstacles for cycling in Tirunelveli is two-fold. Unsafe roads for pedestrians and cyclists alike and lack of dedicated cycle parking in and around main shopping areas and public places like hospitals.
What are your next steps now that you are the Bicycle Mayor?
Now that I’m chosen as the Bicycle Mayor of Tirunelveli, I would strengthen the cycling promotion programs and extend them into schools. I will conduct cycling events and competitions for school children and young adults with the help of local sponsors to do this. I will also step up my social media presence as a BCM to bring in more people into cycling activities.
What can other cities learn from your city?
Tirunelveli as a city that has lead the way by achieving 100% segregation of waste at source first in the country. Biodegradable waste is collected everyday while plastic waste is done on Wednesdays. This model is followed by many municipalities around the country. The corporation uses solar powered vehicles to collect this waste thus providing a sustainable carbon-free totally green waste collection system.