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Meet Your 2019 National Bike Summit Speaker: Robin Mazumder
The 2019 National Bike Summit theme, SHIFT: Accelerating the Movement to Build a Bicycle Friendly America for Everyone, should inspire you to question; What does a Bicycle Friendly America look like to me?; and How can we make changes on the local, state, and national level to work toward this goal? At this year’s Summit, learn different cycling-related approaches to impact your community. One speaker at the Summit, urban scientist Robin Mazumder, will connect his enthusiasm for cycling with his research on urban design to inspire a future that accommodates the human experience.
Photo by Peter Lee
Mazumder’s confident and charismatic nature emanated over the phone as we discussed his love of cycling. Canadian-born to parents from India and Bangladesh with ties to a family-run bicycle import company, Mazumder was lucky to learn the value of of cycling at a young age. As a child, he spent time riding around with friends, enjoying the exhilarating freedom of his bicycle.
As Mazumder grew older, he began to lose touch with his child-like wonder for cycling. While earning a master’s degree at the University of Toronto, his love was rekindled as he desired a mode of transportation that, “killed three birds with one stone.” Mazumder discovered that cycling not only brings joy, it is efficient, affordable, and provides opportunity for exercise.
While earning a master’s degree, Mazumder worked as an occupational therapist. With the desire to help his patients better transition from the hospital back into everyday life, he began to research the impact of the urban environment on physical and mental health as we experience our surroundings. How does this connect to cycling? Cycling releases neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain which helps to improve mental mood naturally. It also contributes to preventative health, reducing the chance of winding up in the hospital.
With the current state of cycling infrastructure in the United States, the biggest challenge for cyclists is safety. Mazumder says, “Sharing space with cars on the road is challenging. Cars aren’t human-scale and they are in a sense ‘inhuman’ because we have less empathy for pedestrians while in one.” If people feel unsafe, it is difficult to find incentive to ride a bike.
Mazumder believes, “The future of urban design is prioritizing humans, but we are going to have to go back in time to more pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in order to put everyone on an equal playing field again.” If urban planners understand the physical and mental benefits of cycling and the safety challenges cyclists face, while designing urban areas they will hopefully be more likely to incorporate infrastructure to accommodate cyclists.
For Mazumder, cycling slows his constantly racing mind and allows him to recognize that, “my body and mind can be more fully engaged.” He loves getting the opportunity to smile at people on his route and see the community. Mazumder’s research for a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience shows he desires to connect his passion for cycling with a more human-centered world. He wishes for everyone to experience the joy cycling can bring and is doing his part to make this a possibility.
Let us not forget what inspires us to cycle. Seize the opportunity at the 2019 Summit to experience something new and learn from others too. Connect back to what we love and look forward to shifting into the future of bicycle transportation.