Cycling as a sport, as a fitness activity, as a means of transpotation and as a device to promoting social messages and harmony has gained widespread acceptance among the common masses. Arshel Akhter – the Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati deserves due credit for being the catalyst in mobilizing cyclists and bringing bicycling into mainstream consciousness. Kaushik Deori of NET talks to the nibble-footed, amicable peddler and tries to delve into his life, experiences and future plans in a free-wheeling conversation.
KD: At the onset, tell us a little bit about yourself and how did your romance with bicycle begin.
AA: I was born and brought up in Guwahati. For a living I invest and trade in shares. I restarted cycling in 2016 after a gap of 16 years. Initially it was simply to explore the nearby places in Guwahati and later on when I started meeting people from all across, the love of cycling grew. Later on I started organizing small cycling rides and then went on to organize cycling events. In the end of 2017 I started a project called ‘Pedal for a Change’ through which I wrote about cyclists and cycling in the region. Taking the project forward, I went on to speak and write about benefits of cycling in schools and colleges. The love and passion has grown since then.
KD: You are christened as “The Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati”. Please share with us how you received that title.
AA: After I started my project ‘Pedal for a Change’, I took to visiting schools and colleges, requesting the administration to allow me to speak about the benefits of cycling. During this time most people were skeptical about my intentions. In the first part of 2018 I came of know about the Bicycle Mayor program by BYCS and found out they were looking for people to spread their message. I contacted them and we spoke about each other’s objectives. Both of our objectives matched and they were appreciative of the work I had done to organize events as well as my efforts to reach out to the young people to promote cycling. I found out that the association will help me get access to experts in the field and also to international best practices. After a series of telephonic interviews and getting endorsed by some eminent local people I was appointed as the first Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati on 22nd April 2018. At that time I was the 2nd one in India and the 10th worldwide.
Updated by: Newsner source 2019-07-09 10:21 AM