Namaste. I am Shail Shrestha. My journey in urban activism started as one of the founder members of youths lead, Kathmandu Cycle City 2020 campaign that started in 2009, with the aim to make Kathmandu a cycle friendly city in 10 years. I am the founder and past president of Cycle City Network Nepal, an NGO established to bring forward the goals of the campaign at institutional level. I am at present the program director of Sustainability School at Digo Bikas Institute. I am also the member of International Carfree Cities Alliance, which seeks a broader urban design transformation and sees it a viable option to achieve equity, justice and climate goals.
How would you describe your mission?
I seek to bring together all the active members on bicycle activism from the city at different dimensions, and to connect the movement at national and international scale to seek and share more inspiration and relevant approaches to building stronger political mobilization of bicycles as a medium of transport. I seek to address the need to understand and communicate the intersectionalilty of the Bicycle Agenda in society and among the cycling community. I will work towards building up and supporting coordination and strategic planning of the grassroots base for the campaigners. I will work towards strategic networking and collective planning and execution approach.
What are the obstacles and challenges you are facing in your city?
Bicycle groups, club and campaign groups are mushrooming around Kathmandu and different cities of Nepal. Lack of coordination between the groups is a challenge many seek to address and many efforts are ongoing in that aspect. There is a lack of broader understanding of the urban justice and equity agenda among bicycle groups that needs to be addressed for a stronger and more focused mobilization. On the one hand, there is a need to bring the bicycle community in connection to other urban, equity and environmental agenda, that bicycle is part of. On the other, there is a need to build a bridge between academia, government agencies of different level, and the civil society groups to facilitate a more robust and timely transition towards a more human centric urban transformation.
What are the next steps now that you are the bicycle mayor?
As a Bicycle Mayor I seek to find and collaborate and connect the campaigners to an international network for inspiration and sharing. I seek to find my junior bicycle mayor, ward councilors, assist to explore scope for more bicycle mayors in other cities to create stronger network. Through these efforts I seek to achieve these goals:
1. Understanding and building Intersectionality.
2. Identifying, creating, connecting, networking Campaign Grass Roots at neighborhood, ward scales throughout the city and promoting it for other cities.
3. Strategic Networking and collective effort plan will be build and executed at different phases through this plan.
What lesson can your city teach others?
Kathmandu has a diverse vibrant bicycle community, with robust active community. It has bicycle community that organizers multiple events annually, and are regarded as a active citizen that show its present in diverse issues of public mobilization from event against corruption, heritage conservation, call for action against injustice and have been regarded for playing important and active role in times of crisis like in the 2015 earthquake and the recent Covid pandemic, where members of cycling community worked to ensure access to fresh meals to the needy in different parts of the city.