With the introduction of jogging tracks, an outdoor gym and cycling tracks in the past few years more Colomboians seem to have taken a greater interest in keeping fit. The joggers at Independence square have been a regular sight for decades, but since of recent, cycling seems to be catching on. This is probably owed to the fact that it’s possible to rent bicycles at the Independence Square and Vihara Maha Devi Park.

Green and outdoorsy, they are a wonderful alternative to the closed-in gyms, but they do have their drawbacks. We at Roar tested out both locations to find out which one is better suited for you.

Independence Square

Independence square cycling track

Independence square cycling track

Independence Square is the more well-known and frequented location for fitness and exercise. For as long as we can remember, we’ve seen joggers power through on the cobbled pathways, flanked by trees, even around midday. With the addition of a gym and cycling track you can imagine how much more Independence Square has grown in popularity for fitness training.

To reach the cycling rental spot, find your way to the ‘Open Fitness Kiosk’; that’s on the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute end, directly opposite (across the roadway) you will see the cycling tracking and walking pathway. Make your way there and keep walking down till you reach a small shed stacked with bicycles.

Open hours: 6:30am to 10am and at 3pm to 9pm.

Bicycle rental: Rs. 100 for 1 hour

Circuit: 800 meters

Note: You have to hand in your Identity Card or Passport in order to rent a bicycle.

When we reached Independence Square it was 7pm and we had a hard time finding a parking spot. It was swarming with families, runners, joggers, and cyclists. When we eventually managed to park and got to the bicycle rental shed, all the bicycles were rented out. We were told if we waited half an hour we should be able to get a bicycle. Clearly Independence Square is extremely popular.

Cycling track along the jogging track at Indepence square

Cycling track along the jogging track at Indepence square

The bicycles are alright. The brakes are a little squeaky but overall, they aren’t too bad. The cycling track is smooth but with all the other cyclists on the pathway, some with less experience, you have to navigate around them, slow down or stop and some may find this bothersome. However, for others this could add an element of fun to fitness cycling – a human obstacle course? At least it isn’t a monotonous ride.

Vihara Maha Devi Park

VMD park is a beautiful location and less crowded

VMD park is a beautiful location and less crowded

Lesser known and frequented as a fitness location, the Vihara Maha Devi park is not as crowded in the evening. With fewer people and beautifully lit up with street lamps, the park is definitely a better location for those looking for a quiet, scenic track with uninterrupted cycling.

Finding the bicycle rental shed can be difficult. What we suggest is that you get to Summer Garden on Nelum Pokana road. Directly opposite is the park. Walk straight on through the park towards the dull saffron yellow building; to your left you will see a sign that reads ‘Main Office’ with an arrow. Follow the arrow down and you will reach the rental shed.

Open hours: 7am to 7pm

Bicycle rental: Rs. 100 for 1 hour

Circuit: 2km

Note: You have to hand in your Identity Card or Passport in order to rent a bicycle.

The park has a longer circuit that Independence square and renting out a bicycle is possible throughout the day. It’s probably good that the rental shed closes at 7pm because the street lamps are quite dim and don’t offer much light.

So few cyclist that people can often be seen strolling on the cycling track at VMD park

So few cyclist that people can often be seen strolling on the cycling track at VMD park

As for the bicycles, they aren’t the best. They are a little faulty and the one we rode was missing the rubber on the handle.

The cycling track is relatively free of other cyclists, so much so that you may have to watch out for walkers on the tracks. But overall, it’s quite peaceful and enjoyable.

Our recommendation

For both locations, we would recommend – if it’s possible – that you bring your own bicycle around. If it’s in better condition, you will probably find it more comfortable than the ones available for rent.

Between the two locations, Vihara Maha Devi park scored more point with us. We were able to find parking and were able to cycle hassle free. The large trees and different settings in the park made for an enjoyable cycling experience. That said though, we know some of you prefer having more people around. In which case, Independence Square is the spot for you. We’d suggest you get there a little early or later than 7pm though because it can be a drag to find parking and waiting for a bicycle during peak fitness time.