Life Cycle ethnographically and visually documents the everyday use of bicycles
among Kolkata’s city dwellers. Winding through the city’s congested
thoroughfares and narrow by-lanes, we follow daily wageworkers, including
migrants from eastern India, environmentalists, teachers, and activists, who
cycle for a living. In this documentary (forty-two minutes) and the broader
ethnographic project within which it is situated, I investigate how cycling
mediates people’s changing relationships to cities in South Asia. Kolkata (formerly
Calcutta), the largest city in eastern India, is the primary focus of Life
Cycle. This city has 1.68 million cyclists, records 2.5 million cycle trips a day,
has the least amount of road space (6 percent) in metropolitan India, and has
the second highest air pollution level. By 2017, traffic regulations prohibited
cycling on seventy city roads.
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