Guwahati’s cycling community turns relief riders

He said the volunteers are delivering the goods maintaining all the Covid protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) during non-curfew hours…reports Sujit Chakraborty.

The Guwahati cycling community, which had started its mission a couple of years ago to protect the environment and save fuel, besides popularising cycling as a mode of recreation, is now helping Covid patients, ailing people and senior citizens.

The ‘Cycling Community’ of Guwahati launched the ‘Relief Riders’ mission two weeks ago to serve Covid patients, ailing people, senior citizens and those in distress with essential items, including food and medicines.

One of the pioneers of the ‘Relief Riders’ mission, Arshel Akhter, said that riding their bicycles, the members of the cycling community are delivering prepared food, medicines, vegetables, fruits, groceries and other essential items to those in need without charging anything for delivery.

“Through online mode or by making cash payments, the beneficiaries are paying for their required items and our volunteers are delivering the essentials at the doorsteps of the people or at the Covid Care Centres,” Akhter said.

He said the volunteers are delivering the goods maintaining all the Covid protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) during non-curfew hours.

According to Akhter, who was named ‘Bicycle Mayor’, an honourary position conferred by the Amsterdam-based social enterprise BYCS, the Relief Riders mission currently has 16 volunteers in different parts of Guwahati and the numbers are increasing since the mission was launched on May 17.

The volunteers are aged between 22 and 59 years, who are delivering the essential items within a radius of 3 km from their respective homes.

He said the Relief Riders mission was started in Guwahati following the footsteps of Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and a few other cities, where the cycling community got together to help the people in need.

Bikash Doley, an entrepreneur and a volunteer for the Relief Riders mission, said that the Bengaluru team had guided them to devise a simplified process to operate the entire scheme.

“We have a few helpline numbers where people can call to place their orders. Once we get the orders, we post them in our internal group alerting the rider staying nearest to the beneficiary. We try to keep all transactions contact less by encouraging digital modes of payment. We also follow social distancing measures, personal hygiene and wearing of masks etc.,” Doley said.

Another volunteer, Siddharth Bhattaroy, said that they are also saving fuel, protecting the environment and preventing carbon dioxide emissions by using bicycles, which can also pass though narrow lanes and by-lanes with ease.

Cycling enthusiast Ripunjoy Gogoi said that if a medicine or some essential good is not available near the requester’s place, the group forms a relay team to deliver the item to the concerned citizen.

The senior most Relief Rider member, Gautam Choudhury, said that the volunteers’ strength is growing daily and they expect more people to join their mission to reach out to needy people.

Meanwhile, ‘World Bicycle Day’ would be observed on June 3 through numerous events. The Guwahati Active Mobility Forum would organise some competitions for people of different age groups on the occasion.

Akhter said the UN in 2018 had declared June 3 as the ‘World Bicycle Day’.

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