New Delhi: Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), as part of the activities being undertaken under Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav (AKAM) launched two unique national level challenges for the first time- “Freedom 2 Walk & Cycle Challenge for City Leaders” & “Inter- City Freedom 2 Walk & Cycle Challenge for Citizens” between 1st to 26th January 2022. In addition to being events that motivate citizens to adopt healthier life choices in a celebratory spirit, the Challenges serve the larger purpose of a long-term behavioral change in citizens towards taking up walking & cycling, and to make city leaders as walking and cycling champions in each city.
An online awards event was hosted by MoHUA today to recognize the top performing cities and city leaders in both the challenges. The event also laid out the goals that cities from India Cycles4Change, Streets4People & Transport4All Challenges will be working towards 2023. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) is the knowledge partners of Smart Cities Mission for the above-mentioned initiatives.
Impact of the Challenges
The city leaders Challenge saw registration from nearly 130 city leaders from across the country, comprising of Commissioners, Additional/Joint/Deputy Commissioners, Smart City CEOs and key SPV officials who jointly achieved nearly 47,000 kms of cycling, 7000 kms of walking and 2500 kms of running during the Challenge. The citizens challenge saw an overwhelming participation from nearly 22,000 citizens from the 75 registered cities, who achieved nearly 9,80,000 km of cycling, 1,82,000 km of walking and 9,350 km of running.
The awards for the city leaders challenge were given in the following categories for performance between 1st to 26th Jan 2022:
1. Cities with maximum kilometers
2. City leaders with maximum kilometers
3. Woman city leaders with maximum kilometers
4. City leaders with maximum time spent in activities
5. City leaders with maximum number of activities during challenge
6. Awards for Ministers, CEOs & Commissioners with maximum kilometers
7. Super Hero Award
The awards for the citizens challenge were given in the following categories for performance between 1st to 26th Jan 2022:
1. Cities with maximum kilometers
2. Cities with maximum registrations
The list of awardees is mentioned in Annexure.
Towards sustaining the momentum beyond the challenge, the participating cities are in the process of signing pledges committing towards institutionalizing activities like Cycle2Work, Open Street Events, Pedestrian Days and physical infrastructure to improve walking and cycling in cities. 18 Cities – Ajmer, Nashik, Rajkot, Lucknow, Kalyan Dombivli, Bhubaneshwar, Jabalpur, Tumakuru, Surat, Valsad, Dahod, Nagpur, Ranchi, Chandigarh, Kakinada, Ujjain, Pimpri Chinchwad, Indore have signed the pledges so far. Aurangabad, Jaipur, Davanagere, Sagar, Pune are in the process.
Goals for 2023: India Cycles4Change, Streets4People & Transport4All Challenges
In 2020, the Government of India launched the India Cycles4Change & Streets4People Challenge to inspire over 100 cities to reimagine streets as safe, happy and healthy public spaces and towards creating cycling friendly cities. This is in line with the vision of National Urban Transport Policy (2006) that calls for a paradigm shift from car-centric roads to people-centric streets. The Transport4All Challenge was launched in 2021 aiming to bring together cities, citizens, and startups to develop solutions that improve public transport to better serve the needs of all citizens. Through these challenges, cities have adopted a new mantra of engaging with citizens, crowdsourcing ideas, and testing innovative, inexpensive, and quick ideas to create walking & cycling-friendly streets.
The online event discussed on initiatives that the challenge cities should work towards till 2023 which includes permanent pilots, policy adoptions & institutional interventions.
1. Award Winners
2. Quotes from city leaders on the Freedom2Walk&Cycle Challenge
‘I have started cycling more often to work and for recreation over the last couple of years. Not only have I become more physically and mentally fit, it has given me a different perspective towards looking at the city and its needs. Cycling is a humble yet very powerful tool that can transform the cities we live in. I urge all city leaders and citizens to experience their cities through walk and cycle and become champions who inspire others’
- Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary, Smart Cities Mission, MoHUA
‘The Challenge is an excellent initiative that brought me closer to my old love, cycling. The consistency of the other participants and the appreciation from my fellow colleagues has been motivating me every single day to clock in a ride. I also urge my fellow women leaders to break the stereotypes and take to cycling. It has empowered me and I’m sure it will do so for you too. Let’s seek inspiration from Serena Williams, Krishna Punia, Mithali Raj, PV Sindhu and let’s choose to be more fit, enjoy the thrill, and contribute to making the planet green.’
- Padmini Singh, Chief Account Officer, ASCL, Ajmer
‘I am extremely grateful for the Freedom to Walk & Cycle Challenge for having triggered a regular walking habit and I look forward to continuing the walks even after the Challenge is complete! Overall, walking is a great solution for physical and mental health and I see the benefits first hand. It keeps my mind agile, fresh, active and focussed throughout the entire day! Over and above this, it is also a good environmental solution in times of climate change.Walking and cycling short distances to work, or to run small errands is absolutely doable by everyone. I urge my fellow colleagues, friends, other city leaders as well as citizens to pick up this habit as a way of life.’
- Pallavi Bhagat, Deputy Commissioner, Kalyan Dombivli
‘Initiatives like these challenges for city leaders and citizens have the potential to change your life and the culture of your city. My personal journey of walking and cycling started in 2014 through a similar official assignment and it has been one of my best decisions! It improved my physical fitness and my productivity at work. I have seen a huge impact of such interventions in the way people have responded to running, walking or cycling and it has also helped in bringing city leaders & citizens closer! I would strongly urge my fellow city officials and citizens to take up walking and cycling. Lets start walking and commutting to work on cycle whenever possible and let’s make a difference together.’
- Chetan Nandani, CEO Rajkot Smart City Development Ltd (RSCDL) & Dy. Municipal Commissioner, Rajkot Municipal Corporation
‘It’s been heartening to see how citizens and city leaders embraced the two national level challenges and that nearly 15 cities have already signed pledges committing to institutionalizing initiatives that promote walking and cycling. It is campaigns like these that help instill long term behavioral change in citizens towards taking up walking & cycling!’
- Aswathy Dilip, South Asia Director, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, (ITDP India)
‘From international leaders being an inspiration for us walking and cycling to work, our leaders are now being an inspiration worldwide! Being part of the coordinating team for the challenges, it was inspiring for us to see the level of participation and excitement that cities and city leaders showed for the two national level challenges! The impact numbers and experiences shared by city leaders reflect the success of this initiative.’
- A V Venugopal, Deputy Manager – Healthy Streets & Partnerships, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP India)
3. Video Testimonials from City Leaders