Vaibhav Kanwal

designer & developer

Summer mornings and green infrastructure

Summers are here. The unforgiving times are back in northern India. It’ll remain fun no more. On a more positive note, getting up early morning isn’t as difficult now. The idea of walking up around 7am doesn’t sound impossible to my lazy morning brain.

In this spirit, I made a pact with one of my close friend to get on a bike and paddle around the town on a Saturday morning. The plan was set! It didn’t seem too ambitious at that time. I had my running shoes, sports wear and water bottle handy. I had to arrange a bike for myself. Explored some of the bike rental options around Delhi. A brief 30m search had landed up on a storefront of an hourly bike rental program called - Green Planet bikes. Perfect!

Picking up the bikes

The next morning, I reached the designated pickup spot near Kohat metro station at 7:30am. I spent a few minutes hunting for the bike stand, I found an abandoned row of green painted bikes at a distance. Fallen dry leaves covered the ground, there was a thin film of dust on all the bicycles. A rusted old chain with a padlock ran through every bike on the stand. Not the best of first impressions.

I dismissed the untidiness and got busy trying to find a someone willing to unchain the bikes for me to use. Met with no interest, I enquired with the parking attend. He pointed me to another worker. The person responsible was absent from duty, he told me. He had not been coming since a few weeks now.

There I was. My hopes of riding through the morning breeze lay shattered. It had been 40 minutes already and I felt disappointed. My plans crushed.

Apathy and acceptance

It wasn’t the unexpected outcome of an early morning workout that made me sad, it was the sheer normalcy and unapologetic demeanor of people responsible which concerned me the most.

The bikes were a mess. Accountability was missing. People didn’t seem to care. Money wasted and tax payer money was again rotting away at the hands of reasonable people who didn’t seem to care as much.

I tweeted about the state of affairs. Haven’t heard back from the rental company yet.

I wish there was a way to make every day life inclusive and friendly. By increasing awareness around green infrastructure. We need better accessibility options for our people.

Unfortunately, we have learnt and acquired a sense of self reliance on private infrastructure because of countless incidents like mine.

Expanding the narrative

The next time I need a workout, I’ll hit the gym. Just like I usually do. My resolve to find an alternate and fun exercise regime outside of private facilities now stands weak. Again.

I moved on and now I want to talk about it. Wish people to realize we deserve better. Start by asking questions from those accountable. It’s not about a row of rusted bicycles. It’s about making sure people get what is there's. It is about you and me demanding we need better infrastructure.

Over to you

Let’s talk about it. Did you have a similar experience in Delhi? Was there something you felt was straightforward and yet was left undone or incomplete. I want to hear from you. Leaving the comments section open for your stories.