Today the world is a new and fresh day, the sun has risen and the sky lit with a new shade of daze. But under this vast open what do you see, I’m sure something that’ll make you flee. Streets with no people, but only moving machines, pursuing through and trying to break free. The never-ending queue of yellow-topped autos, red buses, dirty white and black cabs, and swarms of bikes and scooters that instantly plug the minuscule spaces that open up. When you have forded the winding river of red tail lights and crossed the groan of honks crying out in disharmony, when you reach the other side, of where the idea of people living on earth comes back to life, you find before you the city of Alora.

In Alora, city of desire, a network of water channels, mini gardens and streets intersect each other. To go from one place to another you always have a choice between land and water. Since getting from one point to another is not a straight line but branches of several optional looping trails around nature, the ways to reach the destination were never the same. And so the Alorians were spared the boredom of following the same street everyday. It was not just the streets that added to their entertainment but even the mode of commute: cycling that added adventure to their lives. And that is not all: the network of routes were not arranged on one level, but instead follow an up-and-down course of steps, landings, suspended bridges, and hanging streets. Combining segments of the various routes carefully winding around nature, elevated or on ground level, each inhabitant enjoyed every day the pleasure of a new itinerary to reach the same place commuting in their own way. At each point the city offers surprises to your eyes. The joy of exploring the city streets biking, speeding through their freedom and bringing the streets to life. As the Alorian’s melodiously sang away through glory- what they call their carefree cycling song;

O’ what a lovely morning’
Makes me glad to be alive
While I’m ridin’ down the waterside
With a singin’ in my mind!    

As the inhabitants enter the square night or day, they would be caught in a dialogue. They’d halt by the square’s cycle docking station only to interchange conversations, surprises, caresses and bites. Such were the lives of the Alorian kind- To establish relationships and sustain Alora’s life.  

You’ll cry, with regret at having to leave the city when you can barely graze it with your glance, for this city is a compacted image of nothing less than a utopian paradise. This city of desire, the Alorian lifestyle, my Alora, where my bike would be my best friend carrying me through sunshine, rain, hail, snow where I’d truly feel like I was born to bike would be the true city of my dreams.

Unfortunately, the city of my dreams is far from the cities we live in now. For they are built for our speedy cars and not for us any longer. The streets we would love to enjoy in, have rebelled against us making it unsafe and precarious to be on. Right around 2011, things started arcing in the wrong direction. Every year after that, the number of casualties has gotten progressively worse. The newly released 2018 statistics mean that the fatality rate for riders has risen 37 percent in just nine years—and NHTSA data indicate that the death rate for urban and female cyclists has soared even more.

The city I want is a city where people are the rulers of the streets and work around it. Cycling their way in all types of weather and at all times of day- for pleasure, commuting, transport of goods or family travel for all age groups alike. I want our community back on the streets. Where we can finally talk numbers of how many people did we move down the street instead of the number of cars we move down the street. It’s about time we call our right to our city, where we reshape the process of urbanization and exercise the  power to make and remake our cities. As “cities have the capacity of providing something for everybody, only because, and when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs.

I truly want to believe my city will make its way through for us to wander freely:

“In my spare time, ride my bike
I hope to find my Inner peace.
Enjoy the fresh air
My heart often yearns;
To keep riding 
Which is the only thing
I’d keep wanting”
Transforming these thoughts into reality, but until then- mentally residing and cycling my way, in the loving memory of ‘My Alorian city’. 

Ms. Shreya Rangaraj,
5th Year B’Arch LSRSoA.

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