Sathya Sankaran

Sathya Sankaran is a tactical urbanist with 10 years of experience in civic activism and mobility interventions. He is an avid cyclist making office commutes of up to 40 km by bicycle across the city and rides for recreation in the weekends. He has been working towards a sustainable vision for Bengaluru, campaigning for solutions around Urban Planning, Urban Governance, Non Motorised Transport & Public Transport. He has been instrumental in Cycle Day and Commuter Rail campaigns and is currently championing policy interventions like Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority and Non Motorised Transport policy. With 20 years of background in technology he is a Computer Science Graduate and a Post Graduate student of Public Policy. Sathya plans to focus on bringing together experts and cycling enthusiasts. To begin with, he would reach out to all the contestants and encourage their participation in the movement. That apart, he would focus on creating awareness among school students. The idea is to approach schools and teach students subjects such as physics, health and civics through cycling. Sathya Sankaran is aware of the need to bring various stakeholders to the table to increase the number of cyclists in the city. On his first task as Bicycle Mayor, he hopes to bring together the other nominees who had applied for the role and those working in the field, to actively improve the cycling culture in the city to form a Council for Change.

What is your mission?

To invert the mobility pyramid and achieve a critical mass of people cycling and walking. The congestion-pollution complex is a man made disaster to both climate and natural resources of the planet. This can be reversed only by reduction in demand for motor vehicles by the people. In the long run I would like to see the urban built form in the city become a more dense, enjoyable place with lots of people to people commerce enabled by green open spaces, walking, cycling and public transport.

What are the obstacles you are facing?

  Car is the new cow in developing nations. The more you own and put out to pasture on the roads, the richer you are. To make bicycle fit into this model requires a big attitudinal shift. Safety of the cyclist is a major concern. The sheer number of vehicles on the road can be daunting and overwhelming psychologically to most people wanting to cycle. This needs to be tackled by driver sensitisation programs and activities like Cycle Day. Infrastructure to support this requires political action and the cycling community needs to come together if we need to change the scenario.

What is your next step?

  Council for Change – Bring together people who are working in increasing adoption of cycling and others interested in participating. Have a bucket of activities that they can do and leverage off each other. Bike science for schools – To make cycling a familiar, comfortable and fun mode, I will attempt to teach basic subjects like Physics, Math, Biology, Health, Environment, Civics etc with a bicycle. I will be tying up with schools to teach these from 1st to 10th grades Infrastructure in Businesses – I would like to reach out to businesses like Hotels, Corporates and Industries to put up safe cycle parking and provide shower and changing facilities so more people are encouraged to use the cycle.

What can other countries learn from your program?

  The cycle day program has led to increase in cycling to schools. This and the walk to school programs have made the next generation accept cycling as a fun and desirable mode of transportation. We have made the model scalable by putting ownership with the communities.

Want to become a bicycle mayor or want to get one in your city?