In West Bengal, 78.9 percent of the households have bicycles, the highest in the country, as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).
While the national average is 50.4 percent, Uttar Pradesh holds the second rank with 75.6 percent of the households owning a bicycle, it said.
In Odisha, 72.5 percent of the households own a bicycle, while in Chattisgarh, the figure is 70.8 percent. It is followed by Assam (70.3 percent), Punjab (67.8 percent), Jharkhand (66.3 percent), and Bihar (64.8 percent), said the 2019-21 report.
Nagaland has the lowest number of households owning a bicycle at 5.5 percent, while in Sikkim it is 5.9 percent.
Among other states, 29.9 percent of Gujarat households own a bicycle, and in Delhi, it is 27.2 percent, the report stated.
A senior West Bengal government official said the top spot could be bagged because of the state government’s ‘Sabooj Sathi’ scheme.
”As a part of the scheme, bicycles are given to students of classes 9 to 12. This is the primary reason why we have seen a surge in the number of bicycle users in West Bengal. This scheme is not only helping the students but also their families,” the official said.
The bicycle is also the preferred mode of transportation for many in areas where there is a gap in public transport, he said.
”Not only in rural Bengal, but bicycles are also preferred in areas such as New Town near Kolkata as it is environment friendly. Separate bicycle lanes are being built alongside roads in Salt Lake and New Town. There are plans to build such lanes in other cities as well,” the official said. Till May 11, 1,03,97,444 students have received bicycles in West Bengal under the ‘Sabooj Sathi’ scheme.