Cycling has seen a huge rise in popularity among the urban population of the country. Be it the need for a healthy lifestyle, or simply a catharsis for the soul bearing the stressful burdens of the modern life, cycling in Pakistan caters to all these needs. There has been an emergence of cycling fraternities and clubs in many big cities of Pakistan that attract thousands of enthusiasts.
The most vibrant cycling scene is in the city of Lahore, and it sure is thriving. There are multiple cycling clubs that arrange cycling trips throughout the city. Not only do these cycling meets provide a healthy form of socializing, it also adds to the cultural aura of the city. Cycling meets and trips are usually held in the outskirts of Lahore, as well as the less crowded parts of DHA. Most trips are held early morning so as to attain maximum utility.
Similar groups are active in Karachi as well. One of the biggest benefits of these groups is that the sight of a large cycling meet surely encourages many others to opt for similar lifestyle and venture out into the city with their bicycles. The groups also provide help when it comes to technical issues related to cycling, as well as when an individual wants to set up their own trip in areas where a cycling club does not yet exist. In this manner, this small but growing community of cyclists continues to sustain and improve thereby promoting healthy culture.
Many urban planners and civil society members laud the efforts of individuals to promote the cycling scene. Many Karachiites who are tired of all the smog and traffic congestion are of the view that cycling can be a great alternative to cars, and while the sheer size of the city means that cycling is not viable as a permanent medium of transportation, it can most certainly be used for shorter distance. Cycling cannot just reduce the smog levels but also reduce noise pollution as well as expenditure on fuel costs.
Cycling in Pakistan as a culture has also begun to gain traction among the government figures as well. Recently, two prominent members of the national assembly rode around the capital on their bicycles in an attempt to promote cycling.
One of the most foremost proponents of cycling in Pakistan is the Critical Mass Movement. The movement has reached all major cities of Pakistan and one of its primary goals is to reduce the damage caused to environment by the fuel-guzzling automobiles. The movement has attracted a healthy number of civil society members as well as foreigners. While governments all over the world have attempted to promote cycling as medium of transport, there has been no coordinated and organized effort on part of the government. As a result, cycling culture was almost extinct before the advent of urban movements like Critical Mass.
It is true that cycling is a great form of exercise and one way to promote it as a medium of transport would be for the civil society to join together and launch a cohesive campaign.