Cycling to work can lead to benefits of Rs 1.8 trillion which is 1.6 per cent of India's GDP for the year 2015-16, says a new study.
In the study titled ''Benefits of Cycling in India: An Economic, Environmental and Social Assessment'' by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), it was estimated that if bicycles were to substitute two-and four wheelers used for short distance trips, it can result in an annual benefit of Rs 1.8 trillion.
The study, released on Friday, also noted that these benefits can be realised by providing safe cycling infrastructure and conducting awareness campaigns to highlight the various benefits of cycling and dispelling the notion that bicycles were a ''poor person''s mode of transport''.
"Additionally, cities should plan city-wide bicycle sharing schemes instead of only focusing on specific locations. In order to increase the share of cycling among choice users, the aforementioned measures have to be supplemented by regulations on the use of private motorised vehicles, such as congestion and parking pricing and pollution tax," it said.
The study also said that to increase bicycle access among low-income households, the provision of microfinancing options and implementation of cycle distribution schemes should be undertaken.
"Given that at present the expenditure on bicycles accounts for a large share of household income, it is important to make bicycles more affordable for low-income households.
"This could be achieved by reducing the GST rate on bicycles costing less than Rs 5,000 from the existing 12 per cent to the lowest rate of 5 per cent. It is also recommended that a ''Bicycle Development Council'' be established for development of the sector in India," the study said.
Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Arjun Meghwal, Minister of State for Water Resources were present at the launch of the report.
Mr Prabhu also highlighted the importance of using cycles, saying they not only help in reducing the carbon footprint, but also improve one''s health at a time when lack of exercise appears to be a major cause of diseases among people.