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Courtesy :: NDTV Correspondent
Wednesday, April 2, 2008 (Pune)

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) staff are doing away with their cars and riding to the office on a bicycle once a week.

Even the chief of the Pune Municipal Corporation follows the new practice. Instead of commuting to office in his chauffeur-driven Honda City car, he rides down a bicycle once a week.

This practice is a part of an initiative taken by the PMC to mark every Tuesday as the 'cycle-day' for all its employees.

''Now with traffic congestion increasing, we have found that you could reach your destination faster by traveling on a cycle. It is also less polluting and healthy. We can easily get parking space as well,'' said Praveen Singh Pardesi Municipal Commissioner.

Besides officers, some representatives of people have volunteered for this cause as well.

Shyam Deshpande, the chairman of PMC's standing committee, who handles the PMC's annual budget of Rs 2,200 crore, has come to work on a bicycle too, travelling over 16 Kilometres from home.

''We are encouraging all corporators because if they don't lead by example, it would not convey a good message to others,'' says Deshpande.

However, there are also those who have an excuse not to get off the car.

''Yes I came by car. I finished my lecture in a college at 9.45, and it was not possible for me to reach here on a cycle as I had a meeting at 10,'' explains Opposition leader Vikas Mathkari.

Pune was once a safe haven for cyclists. Till the 1970s, the bicycles used to rule the roads, but with passage of time, the bicycle could not keep pace with the development and had almost disappeared.

Now with this initiative there, is new hope for a city that is searching for ways to deal with rising pollution and traffic congestion.