Cycling in Mumbai has its great pleasures, any Mumbaikar would always contend, though it may not be seem to be so for people from other cities.
“What! Mumbai? …….where you can barely walk on the streets, save the done-to-death Marine Drive,” they would rejoin.
Wait. Bombay (Mumbai’s earlier name) has been a cyclists’ city for long. In 1885, which is 140 years back, cycles started getting sold in Bombay by a company called Bombay Cycle Agency. They were also the first company in India to import motor cars since 1898. The listed company still in existence is now called Bombay Cycle and Motor Agency Ltd. This means, during that time, every cycle or motor car sold in India, was sold through this Bombay company.
(An interesting aside. Heard of the Bombay Bicycle Club? Not a bicycle club, it is an English indie rock band from Crouch End, London, which took its name from the now defunct chain of Indian restaurants in England called the Bombay Bicycle Club. The restaurant was founded in 1898, by a group of British colonial officers whose duty was to police the streets of Bombay on bicycles. So much for Bombay’s legacy with cycling!
Interestingly, there’s another Bombay Bicycle Club of Madison, which is indeed a cycling club set far away in Madison, Wisconsin, USA!)
Mumbai’s generally warm and moist climate too supports cycling; it is more comfortable than walking because the breeze beating on to your body keeps you cool and dry. Neither is the summer heat in Mumbai so scorching that it will roast you when you are on the road midday, nor is the winter so harsh that you become an icy lump on the bicycle, save the rains when cycling might turn out to be messy.
Over the past few decades Mumbai has seen a revival of cycling. Cycling has now entered the realm of being a recreational activity and there are enough cycling clubs, cycling groups, and cycling events in the city. The island city’s linear make-up makes it amenable to both north-south corridor paths and shorter circular paths within the city or the suburbs. What one may miss though are high altitude trails, but they are not far off; one has to just venture further into the ghats near Lonavala in the direction of Pune or the Kasara Ghats in the direction of Nashik.
Mumbai- Along the Coast
The coastal route from Nariman Point to Bandra Bandstand stretching around 35 km. is Mumbai’s favorite night-time cycling route. Starting at Nariman Point along the famous Marine Drive stretch, then onto Kemps Corner, Haji Ali, Shivaji Park, Mahim, and onto Bandra Reclamation and ending on Bandstand. Unfortunately, the Bandra-Worli Sealink in not open to cyclists on normal days except on special cycling events.
Mumbai- The Most Popular Routes
South Mumbai: Start anywhere in Fort or Churchgate, take the Marine Drive, go past Babulnath onto Haji Ali, turn back in at Tardeo and get onto Grant Road and Charni Road, back to Churchgate/ Fort.
Western Suburbs: Lots of options- Bandra, Khar, Juhu, Lokhandwala, Versova. Looping around BKC is also an upcoming cycling route.
Centrals Suburbs: The Eastern Express Highway stretch from Vikhroli to Thane, Yeoor Hills in Thane, Ghodbunder Road connecting Thane and Borivili are some of the popular cycling routes on a Sunday morning.
Mumbai- Over 1000 Cycling Routes
Here’s the most comprehensive list of cycling routes along with maps, submitted by members of the cycling fraternity.