Riding bicycle in Kathmandu to work or just for fun should never disappoint you. There are plenty of benefits to cycling. Some benefits could be getting away with traffic, beating air pollution, living a healthy life. By the way, there could be concern about safety while riding a bicycle in Kathmandu, I will also cover it in this blog.
Why should I ride a bicycle?
1. To stay fit
There are countless health benefits of riding a bicycle. Little to mention are cycling increases muscles strength and flexibility, reduce the fat level, could help in reducing anxiety and depression. Are you one of those who don’t have the time or doesn’t bother doing regular exercise? Then you must read and consider the health benefits of cycling in Better Health. If you look at the health benefits mentioned, it feels like cycling is must for most of the Nepalese. The reason I am saying is that cycling can help to heal or reduce most commonly heard disease in Nepal. So start cycling and get the exercise covered.
2. Beat pollution
Let me take to another side of the benefits of cycling in Kathmandu Valley. I am sure you are aware of the air pollution level in Kathmandu. As published by Numbeo.com Nepal lies in the top 9 of the polluted country in the world(at the time of writing this blog).
As per WHO guidelines, PM2.5 should not exceed averaged 25 µg/m3 24-hour. Can you believe it reaches up to 147, 195 and even 226 µg/m³ in some places within Kathmandu Valley? PM10 which should not exceed 50 µg/m3 in 24-hour average was observed 133 µg/m3 as of Jan 2017. With this number, anyone can have a clue how livable is Kathmandu valley. Buses and cars are the significant contributors of carbon emissions in Nepal and Kathmandu Valley itself. (More on facts and figures about emissions by cars and buses later).
The bottom line is that if you started riding a bike it could help to offset this emission. If you are off to work by bicycle this could be followed by your colleagues. So does his/her friends and colleagues. There is a saying in Nepali “Thopa thopa milera sagara bancha”.So riding a bicycle will help to beat air pollution and consequently leading to a clean and healthy city.
3. Avoid traffic
More than a million new vehicles enter the road every year while the road expansion is negligible. With this situation, one can easily assume the situation of traffic jams in Kathmandu. Cycling can save your time escaping the traffic jams. You can take an alternative route to your work. This ultimately saves your time and helps in avoiding long traffic congestion.
4. Save Money
Well, I don’t say the bicycle don’t cost money. My experience says you don’t have to worry about changes(bill) every day before you get on the bus. This also saves a lot. There are very little maintenance expenses on a bicycle. You might only have to inflate the tires that might not cost you anything if you own air pump.
So basically, I would say a bicycle is a one-time investment. The investment depends on the size, and design of the bike you prefer.
5. Save time
You don’t have to wait for a long time until you find tiny space just to fit your legs in bus and micro. For sure you have noticed the crowd in front of Kathmandu Mall, Ratna Park, and other bus stops. I have waited up to 45 minutes to 1 hour to squeeze myself in the crowded bus. That didn’t feel good.
With cycling, you do not have to wait and adjust into tiny little space for even an hour. Get on your own at your time.
Bicycle shops in Kathmandu
There are already several bicycle shops in Kathmandu. You can even get them online these days. I found one on the first search ktmbikestation.com. Bicycle rent in Kathmandu is also no more impossible. I found a question posted on Quora on renting a bicycle in Kathmandu with several relevant an useful answers for renting a bicycle in Kathmandu.
Whether it is for promoting tourism, educational purpose or any other social events, cycling rallies are organized in different cities in Nepal. If you already own one, then you can also participate in such cycling events organized on different occasions. Those cycling events follow different cycling routes in Kathmandu and surrounding places.
You can check if you think you can make any of those cycling events in Nepal.
Bicycle lanes and usage in developed countries
In most of the high-income countries, roads and streets prioritize bicycles. There are separate lanes for a bicycle. Motor vehicles are not allowed to stop or drive on cycle lanes. Clear instructions can be found about lanes and road usage for cycle and motor vehicle riders.
Copenhagen, Amsterdam and other major cities in Europe are also known as a city with plenty of cycle lanes and paths. Copenhagen is one of the leaders in urban cycling.
To be Considered
Many industrial and business areas are reachable by bicycle in Kathmandu. So state and the federal government should encourage residents for bike use. The good side is that no more construction needed, just have to mark the street for a cycle lane.
In one parking space, 6 to 8 bicycle can fit. So, less space for more riders. Authority should educate people on the benefits and usefulness of riding bicycles if necessary.
On the other hand, I shouldn’t miss the safety issue of bicycle riders on street. The government should consider three approaches to encourage riders and address bicycle safety on the streets. Firstly, making bicycle lanes, secondly, penalizing misbehaving motor vehicle drivers and finally legalizing the bicycle riders issues via legislation.