On the last Friday of every month, at 6pm local time, people in 300 cities across the world ride their bicycles as part of the Critical Mass, or CM, movement. In September, New Delhi became one of those cities. We know that the first CM ride was in San Francisco in 1992. But details on who organized it or how many people participated are hard to come by because the movement has neither a central organization nor a leader.
“No two riders participate for exactly the same reason,” says the website of Time’s Up, a New York-based environmental group. A public service website on the movement, www.critical-mass.info, says CM is a celebration of cycling and people who intend to bully cars should find other avenues of expression. There are some CM meets that have themes, others that don’t. This is how Ranmal Jhala, designer, environmental campaigner and events coordinator for Delhi’s CM, defines it, “Critical Mass is a generic term for a get-together—for people to reclaim space on the roads.” CM has on occasion been associated with mass protests or demonstrations for a cause in some parts of the world, but the Delhi edition, Jhala told us, is just to promote bikes as an eco-friendly mode of transport.
Ticket to ride: Cyclists at a Critical Mass event.
Of course, cycling is also very good exercise, but Jhala, who cycles around the city on a regular basis, comes up with yet another benefit: “The purpose is not to zip around from one point to another, but to take your time and look around,” he says, adding, “sometimes, cycling is like meditation.”
The next edition of CM is scheduled for the last Friday of January. But perhaps Jhala may inspire you to cycle on other days too. “Everyone has to figure out their own pace, and even their own cycles,” Jhala says. “People should incorporate cycling in their day-to-day lives.”
Contact events coordinator Ranmal Jhala (24333876, firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
Cycle Polo Federation of India: Try out this game if you’re scared of horses. Contact the CPFI at 20, Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi (23013881).
Delhi Cycling Club: Started in October 2006 by the Initiative for Transportation and Development Programmes, the DCC has several educative programmes to promote cycling in the city. Initiative for Transportation and Development, 11/1, Jangpura Road, first floor, New Delhi (24373584).
Want to train for a different sport? Try these coaching centres in the Capital.
DDA Sports Complex: These continue to be the heart and soul of Delhi’s public sports facilities. The flagship venue is the Siri Fort Complex, which is remarkably well-maintained. Facilities vary at different locations.
For details, visit www.dda.org.in/sports/sports_complex.htm. Day memberships, about Rs40 (Indian), Rs100 (foreign).
Pacific Sports Complex: This south Delhi sports complex offers a variety of fitness activities, including swimming and aerobics. Andrews Ganj, opposite Greater Kailash-I petrol pump, next to Central School (64520554). Rates and facilities vary, Rs1,500 per month for the gymnasium.
Ryder Sports Academy: With branches in Vasant Kunj and Gurgaon, this privately owned academy offers coaching for a range of sports. Visit www.ryderssports.com/contactus . Rates vary from Rs900-1,600 per month.
YMCA: The Y, as it’s also known, offers coaching for people of all ages. YMCA department of sports, Jai Singh Road (23361915), Rajiv Chowk. Rates vary. Volleyball, Rs450 per quarter, tennis, Rs1,000 per month.