There was quite a build-up to the Greenpeace Bike-a-thon event to be held on the World Environment Day. This included a number of events prior to the actual one. The idea for the campaign was to capture the government and public attention towards an abundant source of renewable energy, the SUN. The growing population in the capital and subsequent rise in consumption of electricity (and elsewhere across India) has made it quite obvious that we need to embrace and adopt alternative sustainable sources of energy. With these ideas in mind the campaign intended to publicly petition the government for taking concrete steps in adopting solar energy across the capital.

The venue for the event was Dilli Haat a popular market complex. The main event for the evening was a Bike-a-thon where multiple cyclists would pedal bicycles fitted with dynamos to light up an LED sign that read 'Switch on the sun'. The campaign sought participation from a motley of groups across Delhi be it RWAs, cycle enthusiasts, senior citizens or college students from various Delhi colleges. Despite the heat and high humidity the turn out for the event was quite impressive with a crowd of almost 300 patrons. The Bike-a-thon participants were requested to register at the kiosks set up just before the stage. Each participant was provided with a coloured ribbon which divided them into sets of cyclists.

The main event was preceded by a number of cultural performances to engage the crowd. This included a traditional Rajasthani folk song & dance performances which kick started the event. It was followed by a group of young Free Style Dancers who enthralled everyone with their athletic and unconventional dance moves .There was also a short live quiz where RJ's from a popular radio channel tested the crowd's knowledge about the sun and solar energy as a renewable source of energy . The Delhi crowd came out above par and well informed as many walked away with a handsome Solar torch as the prize for answering correctly.


As the sun started to set, Delhi Drummers set up their drum circle on the stage. Most of them armed with a Djembe and other percussive instruments. Soon, the first set of cyclists was called upon. With everything in its right place, the drummers started building up their song, gaining momentum with each progressing bar. Soon enough, they were able to mute all ambient noise, all but the sound of cycle chains and tires whizzing away as the cyclists peddled and peddled hard. It was difficult to discern if the drummers were being fueled by the energy of the cyclists or if it was the other way round. After the few initial moments however, both seemed to be in peace, all energies in coherence. At this point the whole atmosphere was nothing short of a shamanic/pagan ritual to invoke the sun god. However, as the sign board lit up this petition was clearly aimed at the masses and the government to wake up from their dog day slumber and address the issue at hand.

As one set of cyclists followed the other, the enthusiasm remained at a constant high despite the heat and the humidity. The event was signed off with one final push at the pedals by the organizers and volunteers.

 All Images © Sudhanshu Malhotra

Varun Jain is a Greenpeace India Volunteer.

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