Cycling for 3.5km regularly for 120 days could help India save Rs 1.8 lakh crore, 1.6% of its GDP, annually, says a study done by The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri).
According to a report in the Times of India, the Teri study titled ‘Benefits of Cycling in India : An Economic, Environmental and Social Assessment’ found that cycling approximately 3.5km regularly for 120 days could help avoid as many as 4,756 premature deaths, while also reducing 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and 0.35 million tonnes of energy (oil equivalent) each year.
Regular cycling will result in Rs 2,700 crore in personal fuel saving, Rs 11,200 crore in travel-time saving, Rs 24,100 crore in health benefit due to reduced air pollution and Rs 1.4 lakh crore in health benefits due to increased physical activity, which totals to Rs 1.78 lakh crore saving for the country, the study said.
To make cycling affordable, the report highlighted the need to reduce GST on cycles costing less than Rs 5,000 from the existing 12% to 5%. “It is important to make bicycles more affordable for low-income households,” the daily quoted the study as saying.
Dr Ajay Mathur, director general of Teri, said safety remains a concern and restricts the use of cycle as a mode of transport. “We need to change our mentality and make cycling a viable option to stay fit, and, at the same time, not affect the planet adversely,” the ToI report quoted him as saying.
There have been many instances from western countries that augur well for the adoption of cycling as a mode of transport. According to the study, cycling in the Netherlands has prevented 6,500 premature deaths annually, leading to 19 billion euros per year as health savings. Similarly, in Barcelona, an increase in 72.5% work trips by cycling resulted in the average economic savings of 4.7 million euros per year.