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Poba demands amendments to bicycle lane policies, laws

  • Published at 02:36 pm October 2nd, 2021
File photo: A cyclist avoids the bicycle lane on a Dhaka street as portions of it are occupied by other two-wheelers or street vendors Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Promoting cycling will go a long way towards reducing chronic disease rates in the country, speakers say

Non-profit organization Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) has demanded amendments to laws and policies on bicycle lanes to protect cyclists and promote cycling.

The organization voiced the demand during a virtual discussion, titled "Review and Modernization of Existing Laws and Policies in Cycling Promotion", on Saturday. 

Speakers at the program said the laws on bicycle lanes in the country currently lacked clarity and policies had not been properly implemented. As a result, bicycle lanes were not suitable for use.

Poba member Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam said many people in Bangladesh were dying of non-communicable diseases every year due to poor health practices. Promoting exercises, such as cycling, could go a long way towards addressing the problem.

“If we want more people to walk or cycle, the roads need to be made suitable for walking and cycling,” he added. 

Also Read - Dhaka gets first ever dedicated bicycle lane

He said public health laws and policies were incomplete, with no attention paid to cycling and separate lanes for it. “According to the education policy, children must have sports equipment at schools and playgrounds in the interest of their health and physical fitness, but this is being implemented in a callous way.

"If it had been in full swing, bicycles could have been provided and the local government authorities and the city corporation would have felt the urge to pay attention to bicycle lanes and footpaths.” 

In 2013, the government introduced a rule relating to separate lanes but there was also a need for specific orders on monitoring and maintenance, he added.

Researcher and architect Zakaria Russel said bicycle lanes in Bangladesh needed to be modernized. “Without a proper bike lane network, cycling in that lane will not be safe and convenient. If a cyclist wants to go to his destination, he may need to cross the road; the government needs to make arrangements and a proper plan for this.” 

He stressed the need to stop cars and other vehicles from parking and driving in bicycle lanes.

Poba Chairman Abu Naser Khan said only 2-5% of people in Bangladesh ride bicycles as it was not safe to use the two-wheelers in traffic.

“If bike lanes can be made safe by enforcing laws and implementing policies, then more people will ride bicycles,” he added. 

The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) created a nine-kilometre bike lane in Agargaon last year. There are three lanes on both sides of the road - one for bicycles, one used for car parking, and one main lane for vehicular movement.

However, Abu Naser said the bicycle lane was usually occupied by hawkers and parked cars. The lane on parliament road was in a similar situation, and eviction drives were only temporarily effective.

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