Hyderabad: "I am so happy to share the first on ground activity with ECIL newspaper boys; that brought many livelihood cyclists under the umbrella of 'Cheemalu Cyclists Union'. This was the first move of Santhana Selvan, better known as 'Bicycle Mayor of Hyderabad' and his team of cyclists.
The cyclist community of Hyderabad have come together under a banner 'Cheemalu Cyclists union' to voice for the common problems faced by cyclists and to uplift their livelihood. In conversation with NewsMeter, Santhana Selvan Cheemalu explains the the genesis of the union.
Cheemalu means ants in Telugu, The word Cheemalu reflects hard working. People moving in and around the city for their daily wages/needs here and there. Hence I am calling all the Livelihood cyclists as Cheemalu/Ants.
Why Cheemalu Cyclists Union? How this thought came up in my mind?
As a Bicycle Mayor of Hyderabad, I am connected with almost all the "fitness and recreational cyclists" in Hyderabad via all the cycling groups of Hyderabad. "Fitness and Recreational Cyclists" are the ones who ride in the early morning in Hyderabad from 5 AM to 8 AM. After that, these cyclists take their motor vehicles for all their transportation needs during the day. In addition to the Fitness cyclists, there is a huge set of people riding in Hyderabad who are on the road, unnoticed, unrecognized, uncared for, not respected upon, but on the other hand, they are the ones who contribute 10-15% of the transportation in Hyderabad with zero carbon emission, individually healthy, pollution-free and self-sustained no dependency, environment-friendly transportation.
When carefully looked at them, they are the hard-working class in the society, major and silent contributors in the city of Hyderabad. They need to be uplifted. Their family needs to be uplifted. They need to be taken care of. They need to be respected on the road. They need to be recognized. They also share the road. On the other hand, considering the population of cyclists from the angle of Livelihood cyclists, it is huge. There are a lot of things we could achieve by representing as a group together. So, what if we aggregate all of them as one Union. We could demand #SafetyForCyclists. We could demand #RespectOnTheRoads. We could also demand exclusive Bicycle Lanes in Hyderabad from the government. That is where the concept of "Cyclists Union" for Livelihood cyclists came into the picture. This is one of its kind and we don't have it anywhere in India or probably in the world, I think.
Purpose of Cheemalu Cyclists Union
The purpose of the union is to be together as Cyclists of Hyderabad (especially Livelihood Cyclists) for voicing out the common problems faced by Cyclists (All Cyclists) in Hyderabad. Secondly, to uplift and support all Livelihood Cyclists of Hyderabad.
This project has a long way to go, but in the coming months, this is going to be very strong because we are talking about grouping 1000s of cyclists in Hyderabad. I am already connected with "fitness" cyclists in Hyderabad, as a Bicycle Mayor of Hyderabad through the Cycling Groups of Hyderabad. This Union will be a great addition because these are the real cyclists, who are helping the environment and their daily livelihood. Uplifting them will go a long way and make a serious impact on the society and environment is what I believe.
What happened on Sept 19 is that we have started our "Cheemalu" Operations by networking with Newspaper Distribution Agents, who use a cycle for their newspaper delivery? It was a brilliant start!!!
How we will execute Cheemalu Cyclists Union?
We have plans to reach out to Newspaper Distribution agents across Hyderabad, who have a huge network of Cyclists in and around Hyderabad. Secondly, there are 1000s of commuters in the industrial belts of Hyderabad. We have a certain list of things to offer and invite these cyclists to the union and they include Personal Term and Accident Insurance, some useful freebies and in the future, we are planning to tie up with Bicycle mechanics, who can help fix their cycle at a discount. On top of all these, we also have a project called "Project Diya", which is a Bicycle donation project. We can redirect the benefits from this Bicycle Donation project to Cheemalu to give away bicycles to the needy commuters.
At least in a year's time, we envision to have an aggregation of 1000s of cyclists under one umbrella and give them benefits and uplift them and at the same time have a strong single voice out for our demands in the city.
Stay tuned to Cheemalu project.