Kashmir: For Asif Iqbal, a government employee from Chanpora in uptown Chanpora cycles to work daily. Asif began cycling after the abrogation of Article 370, as Kashmir shutdown. Asif says, “Cycling helps me negotiate disruptive elements while commuting to the office. It is the best mode of transport in the present scenario. While commuting to the office, I have to travel through areas that are prone to stone-pelting. Cycling is any day a better option in such situations.”
In upscale Rajbagh, Ghulam Mohammad, a cycle vendor, has seen sales double in the last two months. Ghulam says, “It has been a good season. I have sold 400 bicycles in the last two months.”
Ghulam has traditional as well as modern cycles, which are imported either from China or Thailand and range between Rs 3,000 to Rs 30,000.He says, “People are buying bicycles due to the non-availability of transport during the shutdown. It is also economical.”
In the past, cycling was considered old fashioned in Kashmir. But after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016, the people in Kashmir have shown an interest in biking. The three-month-long shutdown in 2016 brought cycling back in fashion.
Some health-conscious people say that they have switched to cycling because it is the best form of exercise.
Dr Raouf Wani says, “I was planning to buy a bicycle for the last three years to get back in shape and now have bought one.”
The chilly climate of Kashmir is perfect for cycling. However, the one thing that dissuades people from biking is that there are no good cycling tracks in Kashmir. Clearly, if the road infrastructure is improved, more people will begin cycling in Kashmir.