I am Dr. Piyush Ranjan Rout, born & brought up in Temple City Bhubaneswar. I am an Urban Regional Planner by education, Urban Management Practitioner, a Columnist Writer, a passionate Urbanist, Advocate of Space For Cycling and founder of We All Ride Bicycle. I’ve seen my city’s transformation, from a cycling friendly town in childhood into a car-loving city by youth. My education and profession gave me the opportunity to travel across the globe to understand how a city works for people. Personally I am very impressed with smaller cities like Utrecht and Delft in the Netherlands which are cycling-friendly than bigger cities like Copenhagen in Denmark.
How would you describe your mission?
Well my mission as a Bicycle Mayor is to reach neighbourhoods, schools, universities, workplaces, etc. in my city to convince children, the youth, and the elderly to convert their every 5 to 10 km. car trips into cycling miles and enjoy the benefits of the local environment, health, economy, etc. This will ultimately make Bhubaneswar the cycling capital of the country when millions will convert their motor miles into pedal miles.
What are the obstacles and challenges you’re facing in your city?
Lack of encouraging cycling infrastructure, disrespect to cyclists, no cycling policy, topography, weather, social stigma of Rich & Poor, and no motivation for cycling. Cycling is still perceived as the poor man’s Ferrari and one of the most dangerous modes of mobility competing with automobiles on the same road & streets.
What are your next steps now that you are the Bicycle Mayor?
Keep advocating for cycling policy along with cycling education. Second, continue dialogues for cycling accessibility to all places including star hotels, sports stadiums, government buildings, public spaces. Third, free cycling parking across the city with secure bicycle lanes. Fourth, keep the decision makers aware of correct & sustainable cycling infrastructure within the city. Fifth, purse the idea with local & state Govt. along with police on creating safer cycling routes to schools, colleges, universities on priority basis.
What can other cities learn from your city?
I am an Urban Planner so do a Dutch Alumni in Urban Environment Management and am often called as mad due to my preference of cycling while I could afford a car. But my madness now produced more mads in my city. I hope the amount of mad will keep rising and become a lesson for other cities.