NEW DELHI: Bring your cycle by the DDA Sports Complex in Dwarka on Sunday morning. Bring the tots too. Both sides of a 1.8km stretch will be cleared of motorized vehicles from 7am to 10am and left free for cycling, walking, skating, kickabout and exercise. Raahgiri, a weekly event which has been initiated in Gurgaon and Connaught Place by local civic agencies and Embarq India, and supported by The Times of India, is now coming to Dwarka.
"The night before the first one started, I thought if 1,500 people come, I'd jump with joy and declare it a success. We were blown away when about 10,000 turned up," said Amit Bhatt of the NGO Embarq India. The turnout has been impressive throughout. The CP version, with just about a kilometre of space, draws 3,000-4,000 people every Sunday.
"There is a latent demand for such programmes," added Bhatt. About 7,000-8,000 people are expected to join the Dwarka event. According to Bhatt, 70% of those coming to Raahgiri live within 10 minutes of the venue. "That's our catchment area and in Dwarka, for the spot we've chosen, there are about 45 lakh living within that radius."
"Initiatives like these serve a dual purpose. The first benefit is obviously awareness about health and fitness and the other is social interaction. We will continue to support initiatives like these," said Balvinder Kumar, vice-chairperson of Delhi Development Authority, which is bringing Raahgiri to Dwarka along with Embarq India and Delhi Police. The Times of India is supporting the event.
"We have been actively campaigning for the freedom of pedestrians on city roads and Raahgiri will boost the campaign. The event can probably be held in other areas in the city too and we will support it," said Mukesh Chander, special commissioner, traffic.