Cycling, DesiPundit, Sports
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No cycles please; we’re a star hotel!

A few days ago, a cyclist was turned away from the Leela Hotel’s main gate to a side parking lot on the road. He was there to attend a conference when his “humble” cycle did not pass the “high security standards” of the hotel. He refused, of course, (even I would!) the security guard’s suggestion to park on the side of the road.

You can follow the discussion here.

This was communicated to the Leela, but they couldn’t say much except that they can’t take responsibility of two wheelers and cycles parked on their premises. And that they have “security” policies that do not allow two wheeler parking. (Check out their Facebook page for their very defensive response). However, “security” is something they don’t offer cars either. The question is why they haven’t accounted for at least one parking space inside for two-wheelers and cycles – surely it can’t be a space issue considering it hardly takes any space to park 15-20 bikes (or cycles). The space offered currently to two wheelers and cyclists is on the side of the road – unsecured and especially so for a cycle.

Though I hadn’t given it much thought (since I haven’t personally visited any star hotel on cycle), I realized that most star hotels probably have the same attitude. While cars and large gas guzzling vehicles drive in through their front gate, the humble cycle definitely won’t pass the “class” test and is made to either enter through a side entrance or has to be left to its own device somewhere on the road. Now, if I did happen to cycle up to such a hotel, there is no way I would leave my precious cycle unattended by the roadside!

I seriously hope the Leela at least looks into this issue. Rajesh Nair, one of the co-founders of TFN and a passionate biker, has been in conversation with the hotel, which has said it will look into the matter.

Meanwhile, Rajesh Kalra has blogged in the TOI about this episode and also about another one where 2 politicians cycled into the Vidhan Soudha and were initially not allowed because they did not know where to stick a VIP sticker on the cycle! But later, they did realize their folly and resolved the issue. However, whether the Leela will seriously look at this as a genuine concern remains to be seen.

He writes: “Hotels are trying hard to project themselves as responsible corporates and spend huge amounts to let the world know about their green credentials. If they were to just get out of their inflexible mindset, they’d realise that there is a lot more goodwill to be earned, and earmarking far less space for parking would make financial sense too.”

In fact, I’m wondering if there are any star or high end hotels in Bangalore will actually wake up now and install bike stands in their premises to cater to anyone who decides one Sunday morning to ride up to their brunch. And this very much possible as the cycling community in Bangalore continues to grow. They will have to sit up and pay heed soon.

Rajesh also mentions that the Ramada in Bangalore allowed him to not only take the cycle inside, but also to his room. Are there any other hotels which are bike and cycle friendly? If you have any personal experience, do leave a comment. Kanishka Lahiri, another regular biker commented that the Taj West End allowed him. The Taj on MG Road however doesn’t have 2 wheeler parking either and I suppose this will also apply to cycles.

Meanwhile, my hunt is on for any star hotels with more “environmental” and “green” policies and attitudes. If you know of any, please do let me know so I can compile a list.

As of now, this is how it looks:
BIKER/CYCLIST UNFRIENDLY
– Leela Kempinski, Old Airport Road
– Taj, MG Road

BIKER/CYCLIST FRIENDLY
– Taj West End
– Ramada
– Ashoka Hotel – GoGreen Rao has posted about this saying he informed the hotel and organizers in advance and they organised parking for him! Photo here.
– The Chancery Pavilion, Residency Road (According to GoGreen Rao, this has been tested by group member Shilpa who recently attended a conference and was surprised to see parking available for cycles)
– ITC Gardenia – I had visited the hotel last week and checked with them about cycle parking. Apparently, no one has made such a request so far! But they have two-wheeler parking inside in the basement and the lady I talked to said it should not be a problem if someone came on a cycle.

Is anyone aware of hotels like Oberoi, ITC Sheraton, Ashoka and the Park? Please do leave me a comment so I can update.

ADDENDUM: In view of this incident, this month’s critical mass ride on Saturday, March 27, is from the Bangalore Press Club to Leela Palace:
Do join in!

Sandip B has some pictures from the ride. Check out the ones where they are lounging in front of the green patch – the group weren’t allowed in – not suprising considering their stand!

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