“People took up cycling as a way to stay fit in the earlier days. Then it became about endurance. Now it’s about going long-distance. With the pandemic, many have taken to cycling within the city limits in order to train for inter-State rides after it’s safe to go,” said Balaji Prasad, business manager of We are Chennai Cycling Group.
Within the city, popular tracks are the National Highway 7 and GST Road. The stretch of the East Coast Road leading to Mahabalipuram and Puducherry is very popular due to good roads and disciplined traffic. Other popular routes include Outer Ring Road and Chennai Bypass Road.
“Highways are preferred because the roads are wide and there is usually a two foot space reserved for cyclists, like on ECR. The road condition is very smooth and so highways are preferred,” said Prasad.
Establishing cycling lanes is essential for promoting cycling which will help boost local long-distance cycling. “Cycling lanes have to be by design and not enforcement. I don’t want to compete with traffic and other vehicles. People need the discipline to give way for cyclists, and that’s simply not there yet,” said Srini Swaminathan, a long-distance cyclist.
For newer cyclists, Srinivasan recommends OMRECR Bicycle Trails, a book by Ramanujar Moulana that compiles the various cycling trails in the city, while also revealing a bit of history along the way.