Boffin prefers to bike



Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, winner of 2009 Nobel Prize for chemistry lives in Cambridge, doesn’t own a car and rides his bike everywhere.

Dr Venki – as he prefers to be called – was recently interviewed by members of Rideacycle and the Bangalore Bikers’ Club. This is an edited version of that interview.

Why do you prefer to cycle?

“I cycle for a variety of reasons, the first being that I enjoy cycling. It’s a much nicer mode of transport. It doesn’t pollute! Also, though I do run and lift weights, but I know that even if I don’t get any other exercise, I have had it in the form of cycling each day. By the time you get to work, you are wide awake, alert, and ready to start work. And at the end of the day, it works in reverse. It lessens the stress and relaxes you, and I think that makes for a great lifestyle.”

What do you say to those who say cycling is slow and a time-sink?

“That reason is bogus! The very same people who don’t want to cycle, do get the time for whatever other activities they really want to do. In Cambridge, when I go out to dinner with my friends, I am usually there before the other dinner guests at the restaurant! Up to 5 km or so…it’s actually faster by cycle.”

How important is to be a cycling parent?

“Adult role models are very important for children. A child who grows up watching his/her parents cycling, will want to emulate them; if they see only aspirations towards motorized transport, that’s what they will also aspire to.”

If you don’t have a car, how do you carry your shopping?

“We [Dr Venki’s wife is Vera Rosenberry, an author and illustrator of children’s books] have panniers fitting on either side of the cycles, where we can store our shopping. Actually, going cycling to the shops is very good for you financially. With a car, one would buy up lots of stuff and fill the car with it. With the cycle, one is forced to buy just what one needs; it limits your shopping.”