Stop or pedal on?: City cyclists concerned about their safety

The situation might be a little grimmer for female riders. Dr. Niharika, a senior cyclist in the city, says that she has been cat-called and several times motorists have honked at her even though she was not in their way.

By Amrutha Kosuru  Published on  4 Jan 2022 8:52 AM GMT
Stop or pedal on?: City cyclists concerned about their safety

Hyderabad: After battling for his life for a day, Nitin Agarwal, a 32-year-old techie, lost his life on 1 January. Nitin was riding a bicycle when a drunk car driver hit him in the early hours of 31 December at Gachibowli, Hyderabad. This is the second such case in the last two days in Telangana. On the same day, Yusuf, a tea vendor, was run over by a lorry. Yusuf was on his way to work in the early hours when the incident occurred.

The incidents have shaken the cycling community that has been demanding better safety measures for cyclists.

Ravi Sambari from Relief Riders Hyderabad has been cycling with extra caution since the incident. "I was there when they took Nitin to the ICU. The incident has scared me a little. I believe cycling in the early hours is best but this incident proves that at no time are the roads safe," he said.

In the year 2021, Ravi told that he has personally seen approximately 10 serious accident cases - involving fractures, bone dislocations, and more. 20-30 minor accident cases which do not involve direct contact with another vehicle were also observed by him.

Prasad Vallabhajosyula, a city-based cyclist and IT employee said Nitin's accident has not only instilled fear among the cycling community but also their families. "My family requests me every now and then to stop cycling and switch to indoor cycling or go to the gym instead. Sometimes I don't want to give them such trauma," he says. However, Prasad loves cycling too much to stop it.

The situation might be a little grimmer for female riders. Dr. Niharika, a senior cyclist in the city, says that she has been cat-called and several times motorists have honked at her even though she was not in their way. "I didn't know Nitin personally but I was quite shaken up. I spent my Sunday thinking about how unfair it is that he lost his life even though he did nothing wrong," she says.

Dr. Niharika continues to cycle but the fear of accidents, especially within the city, has only increased. In her opinion, she finds highways a safer place to ride than within the city.

"If the traffic situation in Hyderabad worsens then I suppose we all have to stop cycling to be safe," Prasad says sadly. He adds, "Even among my family and friends, many elders refrain from encouraging their children to cycle. It is perceived as unsafe by many people."

"I know that many cyclists are asking for separate lanes but what is more important is a civic sense where motorists and car drivers fully understand that cyclists are as much of a driver as them," she added.

He says that there needs to be a separate lane for riding bicycles to avoid accidents and that more awareness needs to be created regarding the same.

Another concern arises when those who use bicycles as a mode of transport frequently meet with accidents. Bicycle Mayor of Hyderabad Santhana Selvan opined that such cyclists are usually aware of all traffic rules and roads. "They are basically experts. When accidents occur to such people it is evident how dangerous the road is for all cyclists," he says referring to the Adilabad case.

Santhana explains that more awareness needs to be created and strict rules and heavy charges need to be put in place for various offenses. "For Hyderabad to be progressive, the government should ensure that a safer environment is created for cyclists on the road," he adds.

He urges the government to take appropriate steps to make the situation for cyclists better so that even children can cycle to school.

With roads catering to only motorbikes, autos, and cars and no lanes for bicycles, cyclists in the city say it is not uncommon to meet with accidents and sustain injuries – even minor ones.

Ravi also met with an accident three months ago near Kondapur. However, he only sustained minor injuries. "Unlike all other vehicles, many cyclists do not have the luxury to cycle at all times of the day. In Hyderabad, it is comparatively safer to cycle in the early hours," Ravi says.

Santhana Selvan also met with a minor accident near Gachibowli when a speeding auto dashed him from behind four months ago. "It took me 7-10 days to recover from the minor injuries," he says.

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