Indian Crisis: When Cycling Becomes an Extreme (Tran)Sport
by Ève Lacroix on November 1, 2013 - 12:10pm
The article written by the BBC News, South Asia correspondent Andrew North, describes the disastrous situation that cyclists and pedestrians are facing in India. In fact, at least three of them pass-away on the streets of the major city of New Delhi on a daily basis. They represent more than 50 percent of all the road deaths in this urban center. Likewise, this issue is also common in other Indian metropolises, such as Mumbai. However, even if it has been present in the country for many years, the problem has recently been taken more seriously after the renowned environmentalist, Sunita Naraingot, got involved. She got seriously injured after being hit by a car while she was riding her bicycle early in the morning. The fact is, she only represents one of the millions of cases.
A major cause of this issue is that the roads were not originally designed with the purpose of welcoming both bicycles and cars at the same time. Thus, there are actually only a few cycle lanes available on the streets of the cities. Furthermore, it is said that the number of car-owners increases by 7% every year. In fact, "[a]t least 1,400 new cars are being registered in Delhi every day." With the constant growing amount of vehicles circulating on the streets, the situation can only get worse. This serious social crisis is also said to be strongly linked with the important number of drunk-drivers. It is evaluated that their implication in road accidents is around 40 percent. By these facts, it is clear that cycling conditions in India are problematic.
From my perspective, this social problem is alarming. Effective decisions have to be taken in order to change the situation. I hope that the case of Sunita Naraingot will be an eye-opener for the government to react. In fact, the authorities of the Indian city of Calcutta have decided to forbid cyclist transportation on many roads. By creating new laws for cyclists, they will reduce traffic. However, will that really help cyclists and pedestrians circulate safely around the city? I don’t think so. In my opinion, it will only temporarily council the issue instead of solving it once and for all. The road system and driving behaviour have to be transformed and redesigned in order to create harmony. To make that possible, the state has to put cyclists and pedestrians’ well-being in its priorities, considering that they represent the majority of the population. The massacre has to end.