Promoting cycling as a viable transport option for the future
26 February 2006, Kurunegala, Sri Lanka
Over 3000 cyclists took the Kurunegala town by storm on Sunday, February 26, 2006. Starting from 3 different routes, all dressed in white T-shirts and caps they converged on the Sathyawadi Grounds. This was Cyclone 2006 - a bicycle rally focusing on obtaining safer roads and better infrastructure for cyclists in city roads.
The three processions starting from Mawathagama, Potuhera and Hanhamuna included cyclists of all types - school children, vendors, the disabled, tourists, service providers or vendors, and sportsmen.
Amongst those joining the rally were the Minister of Coconut Development & Deputy Science & Technology, Mr. Salinda Dissanayake; Minister of Botanical & Zoological Parks Promotion, Mr. Bandula Basnayake; the Municipal Commissioner of Kurunegala - Mr. H V Heirapitiya; and the Opposition leader of the KMC - Mr. Gamini Peramunage.
Mr. Dissanayake addressing the cyclists said that if a conducive environment was created, he would cycle to parliament.
Dr. Vishaka Hiddelege, Director of Practical Action South Asia, said a large number of school children had shown up and this was a positive sign as they could take the message that encouraging cyclists by giving them space on the roads was one way forward for the country.
Cyclone 2006 is the second such rally. The first rally was held in 2004 for the first time in Sri Lanka when over 3000 cyclists gathered to the Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo for the mega bicycle rally Cyclone 2004.
More bicycling means a reduction on oil imports. Cycling consumes less energy per passenger kilometre than any other form of transport. It also improves physical fitness.
Cycling has, in contrast to other exercises, the great advantage that it can be incorporated into the daily routine, such as travelling to work or market. The use of bicycles reduces the congestion in cities and provides better access than car or bus to a range of facilities within distances of up to five kilometres. Further, it is a cost effective way of transport.
Most European cities have dedicated cycling lanes and infrastructure coupled with a good public transport system. This would be the best way forward for our already congested city streets and the continuing to grow traffic.