People living in Dhaka are pretty much used to sit and wait for hours and hours due to traffic. Oh, we add ‘jam’ afterward the word traffic. We are so habituated to the idea of long traffic, we usually take the road one hour earlier. Even then, sometimes we end up being late. Traffic is one of the most common excuses for being late. However, it is something serious. Let’s look at the statistics.
According to Accident Research Institute’s findings in 2018, the annual loss due to congestion is between twenty thousand crore to fifty-five thousand crore. However, the misery at a personal level is immense. Sometimes an ambulance with a dying patient can’t escape the standstill traffic.
Now, let’s talk about speed. A world bank report said, in the last ten years Dhaka’s traffic speed dropped to 7 kmph. According to Accident Research Institute, the rush hour speed stat is even less comforting.
Research by Robert Gallagher, a British transport planner working in Bangladesh projected about the traffic speed in Dhaka city. According to his projection, the speed might drop to 4.7 kph by 2035 if no significant public transport investment happens.
It does not matter how you travel or how fast your car is. What matters is where you travel.
Even though the walking speed varies with age and sex. According to Healthline, the average walking speed of a healthy thirty-year-old man is 4.8 to 5.1. I am not saying you should start to walk on your way home every day. But there is an alternative option out there.
Cycling would be the best option. The vehicle is environment-friendly, less costly. Moreover, it promotes healthy life.
The government of Bangladesh is trying its best to reduce traffic problems. A substantial amount of investment has been placed to reduce traffic problems. However, the number of registered vehicles is more than a million. The number may increase because the country is getting more connected with its rural parts.
The more integration happens, the more congested Dhaka will become. Thus, apart from large investments in Metro Rail, Flyovers, we need behavioral change. Cycling is one of the best ways to show it.
You may have heard of the news of the Dutch Prime Minister riding his bike as a daily commute to his office. This interesting news says a lot about the country. This is the country that outnumbers its inhabitants by the bicycles. There are about 23 million bicycles in the Netherlands. It is pretty huge for a country that has only 17 million inhabitants. According to the government of the Netherlands, the trend is on the rise since 2005.
Cycling has been a trend all over the world. According to World Economic Forum, 37.2 percent of people in China ride bicycles. 57 percent of people ride in Japan. 60 percent of people in Finland have the same practice. These statistics point out one major issue. These nations try to go for a healthy sustainable environment.
According to the EPA, a typical vehicle can emit 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This is how decisive a vehicle can pollute the environment. Global Liveability Index 2021 named Dhaka as the 4th worst city to live in. In the index, Dhaka earned only 30.8 for culture and environment.
One of the factors here would be pollution made by vehicles. According to an estimation, many private vehicle owners in Bangladesh own more than one private vehicle. The utter ignorance from the rich side of the population is scary.
The small distance should have been replaced by the bicycles. Though it is disappointing, environmental education has to be promoted towards these people. They should understand how pollutions affect them. Cycling would be a refreshing idea because it has numerous individual benefits.
Cycling poses numerous health benefits. It helps people to deal with being obese as cycling burns calories. According to a Healthline article, cycling helps to prevent type-2 diabetes as well as high blood pressure, heart attack. It can work as a core workout. While congested traffic may develop anxiety, cycling boosts mental health. Physical exercise is linked to mental well-being.
However, one of the major setbacks of cycling is safety. People are concerned about their safety. When I started cycling, the main concern was also safety. My parent was a bit worried. A couple of my friends who once wanted to do cycling gave up their will because of safety concerns. They should be worried as reckless driving has been an issue in Dhaka city.
There were no dedicated lanes for cycling until Dhaka North City Corporation made a nine-kilometer bike lane in the Agargaon areas. It is a beacon of hope that the cycling trend has been considered a prospect. If more lanes are being dedicated, more cyclists would be encouraged to use cyle as a daily commute.
European countries have practices like advanced stop lines, cycle streets and highways, intelligent sensors, sustainable led lighting systems, and other digitalized safety features. This new lane would be our initial phase of a promising future for the cycling community.
Another drawback is bicycle thievery. It discourages people to purchase bicycles. Bicycles being stolen from the street isn’t unusual in Dhaka. People don’t have the luxury to repurchase as many of the cyclists are students. This major problem can be reduced if the supermarkets encourage the cyclists to use their garages with minimal fees.
However, a secured bike-sharing system can transform the commuting system in Dhaka. In China, the dockless bike-sharing system is widely practiced. People can just easily rent a bike with a smartphone and park it in a designated place.
The aspiring news is that cycling has been a trend recently in Bangladesh. Many people use bikes as their daily way of commuting. Some bikes manufacturer sees sales growth. According to a report by the Daily Star, the domestic market is more than thousands crore taka. There is a possibility that the market may grow if people are encouraged to do cycling.
BDCyclists, a community in Bangladesh has been promoting cycling since its inception in 2011. They organize many events that encourage people to do cycling. Ultimately, their organized events have inspired people to enter cycling. If more communities come forward and inspire people, cycling does have the potentiality to reduce traffic problems in Dhaka.