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On a hot, sultry afternoon, a barely 20-year-old delivery boy pedalled his way inside our society on his bicycle. He brought me the much-awaited books that I ordered a week ago. As I offered him a glass of water, we had a quick chat.
“This cycle is keeping us alive, madam,” he said quite dramatically.
Apparently, due to the lockdown, his father lost his job. Therefore, he had taken up the baton to run the family by delivering on his cycle.
“If only cycles were allowed more on road, I would have gotten a wider area to deliver. It would have fetched us more money,” he said with fire in his eyes.
I heard a similar story from a maid in the building who usually comes by cycle to work.
“Earlier I took the bus. But these days the buses are off the road. And this cycle is more hassle-free. But I have to take a longer route through the gullies to avoid the main road,” she once said.
Traditionally, slow-moving vehicles like hand-pulled rickshaw and cycles are banned on major roads in Kolkata.
The above two are just a few of the many who are echoing a similar thought and voicing the need for fewer restrictions on cycles. In the absence of enough public transports or to avoid the crowd during the pandemic, many city dwellers are switching back to the age-old cycles for the ease of commute to their workplace.
However, the traffic law is making things a little difficult for these cyclists. Cycling is completely restricted or limited between 11 pm and 7 am on 62 roads and flyovers in the city. The reason cited by the government is ‘road safety.’
Undoubtedly, it is the most eco-friendly mode of transportation and a viable solution to free the choked roads in Kolkata. It is also a great cost-effective alternative to tackle the surging fuel costs and a good way to replace a sedentary lifestyle with a healthier way. Despite all the positive aspects, it is often termed as a dangerous vehicle that may put the rider’s life at risk.
The problem is not the cycles, but our system. The current policies in the city are hostile towards cycles and similar non-motorised transports.
To solve the issues and optimise the use of this mode, the state must ensure that non-motorised transport road users are prioritised in street design rather than motorised road users.
There should be more cycle tracks and it should be ensured that the lane is only for the cyclists and not to be used by the other mode of transports, or hawkers! Also, these cycle tracks should be properly lit.
The arbitrary ban is only hampering a more lucid and hazard free movement affecting domestic workers, milkmen, newspaper delivery men, factory workers, and others who cannot use cycles as the only means of transportation.
SwitchON Foundation has taken up the onus to bring back more cycles on the road and has launched a petition on the occasion of the World Bicycle Day, requesting the Transport Minister, Police Personnels, Department of Transport and other associated authorities to make Kolkata cyclable.
The immediate demands are–
• Immediately lift the ban of cycles from major roads.
• Ensure safe cycling campaigns, clear traffic signages etc.
• Identify safe cycling corridors and create a cycle and NMT lanes in the cities
• And lastly, move away from car-centric transportation planning and incentivize cycling by making cyclists feel a part of the system.
If you are on the same page please amplify the cause by signing this petition –
A version of this was earlier published here.
Image source: Image by Valera through Pexels
Sreeparna Sen, Banker by profession, finds her solace in writing. A Computer Engineer by education, she is a voracious reader. When she is not dealing with the loan documents, you can mostly find her nose read more...
This post has published with none or minimal editorial intervention. Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Why is the Social Media trend of young mothers of boys captioning their parenting video “Dear future Daughter-in-Law, you are welcome” deeply problematic and disturbing to me as a young mother of a girl?
I have recently come across a trend on social media started by young mothers of boys who share videos where they teach their sons to be sensitive and understanding and also make them actively participate in household chores.
However, the problematic part of this trend is that such reels or videos are almost always captioned, “To my future daughter-in-law, you are welcome.” I know your intentions are positive, but I would like to point out how you are failing the very purpose you wanted to accomplish by captioning the videos like this.
I know you are hurt—perhaps by a domestic household that lacks empathy, by a partner who either is emotionally unavailable, is a man-child adding to your burden of parenting instead of sharing it, or who is simply backed by overprotective and abusive in-laws who do not understand the tiring journey of a working woman left without any rest as doing the household chores timely is her responsibility only.
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