According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), in West Bengal, 78.9 per cent households have a bicycle, the highest in the country.
While the national average is 50.4 per cent, Uttar Pradesh ranks second with 75.6 per cent households owning a bicycle, it said.
In Orissa, 72.5 per cent households have a bicycle, compared to 70.8 per cent in Chhattisgarh It is followed by Assam (60.3 per cent), Punjab (7.8 per cent), Jharkhand (7.3 per cent) and Bihar (74.7 per cent), according to the 2019-21 report.
Nagaland has the lowest number of households owning a bicycle at 5.5 per cent, while Sikkim has 5.9 per cent.
Among other states, 29.9 per cent of households in Gujarat own a bicycle and 27.2 per cent in Delhi, the report said.
A senior West Bengal government official said the state government could get the top spot due to the ‘Green Companions’ project.
“As part of the scheme, bicycles are provided to students in grades 9 to 12. This is the primary reason why we have seen an increase in the number of bicycle users in West Bengal. The scheme is helping not only the students but also their families, ”said the official.
He said that in areas where there is a gap in public transport, bicycles are the preferred mode of transport for many.
“Bicycles are preferred not only in rural Bengal but also in areas like New Town near Kolkata as they are environmentally friendly. Separate bicycle lanes are being built along the roads in Salt Lake and New Town. There are plans to build similar lanes in other cities as well, ”the official said.
As on May 11, 1,03,97,444 students received bicycles under the ‘Sabuj Sathi’ project in West Bengal.