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Separated bicycle lanes vital for safe transportation during COVID-19 pandemic

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Update: 2020-06-02 18:22:29
Separated bicycle lanes vital for safe transportation during COVID-19 pandemic

After 66 days of lockdown, Bangladesh reopened of all offices, business and transport on a limited scale on 31 May, even though the spread of Covid-19 in the country shows no sign of slowing down. Most employees joined their workplaces with fear and anxiety.

The resumption of business also brought back the traffic in Dhaka city. Although public buses were not on the roads, many private cars, rickshaws, bikes and some small motorcars were stuck just like before the lockdown. Transport for government employees, CNGs and rickshaws, does not seem to be maintaining Covid-19 health protocols. 

In the Covid-19 situation, the bicycle can be a useful means of transportation. It is also possible to maintain social distance easily by cycling. If the government wants, they can build separate bicycle lanes in big cities including Dhaka to avoid crowded mass transits and follow health authorities’ advice for social distancing.According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), investing in pedestrians and cyclists – who often make up the majority of citizens in a city -  can save lives, help protect the environment and support poverty reduction.

On the other hand, traffic jam is on the most important problem for Dhaka city. It is impossible to estimate how long it can take to get from one place to another. According to the research (2018)of Accident Research Institute (ARI) of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), around 5.0 million working hours are being wasted each day due to traffic jams in Dhaka, causing an average financial loss of Taka 370 billion annually. But there is a solution not for everyone but for many, especially for the younger generation, that is bicycling. There are many people here who are now trying to cycle to Dhaka city. Since the city has not been made suitable for cycling, many of them are suffering from various accidents. If cars, buses, trucks, as well as bicycles could travel equally along the main roads in Dhaka city, I think a huge part of the traffic jam could be brought under control overnight. Of course, it is possible to make a separate lane for bicycles.Govt. just have to leave a concrete divider on the side of the road and make a narrow road for bicycles. The only rule is to cycle through that part of the road - nothing else.The younger generation will take it easily. They will ride bicycles from one place to another in the blink of an eye without sitting in traffic for hours.In the same way that people in all other countries of the world have cycled to reduce the pressure on the roads, let it be done in our city of Dhaka as well. This bicycle culture is starting all over the world, so why is our country lagging behind?

Therefore, I would like to request the government to make separate lanes for bicycles on both sides of all the roads in our big cities. It doesn't really require a big budget - but if it does, the financial value of the time that people will save is certainly not to be underestimated at all.

Dhaka city is a very suitable city for cycling. One big reason is that the whole city is flat, not hilly like many countries in the world. Anyone can ride around the city on a simple bicycle. Another reason is the age of the population of Dhaka city, a large part is the young and young. If they are given the opportunity to ride a bicycle, they will eagerly and happily seize that opportunity. Cycling will not only reduce traffic jam but also reduce air pollution.  

If the traffic congestion in Dhaka city can be really reduced by using bicycles, then next year when the uninhabitable city will be listed, the place of Dhaka city will not be in the worst condition - it will be in a much better condition.In Dhaka city, if we want to make a big solution for transportation by bicycle during COVID-19 pandemic, then we have to make a separate lane for bicycles. Separate a small space on the side of the main road where everyone can cycle safely.

In April 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 3 as International World Bicycle Day.An affordable, reliable and sustainable means of transportation, the bicycle fosters environmental stewardship and good health, providing a cost-effective form of transport while reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and even death, according to the World Health Organization.To spread awareness about its many benefits, the United Nations encourages Member States to develop a culture of cycling and organize initiative like national and local bike rides, while promoting pedestrian safety and cycling mobility. Separate lane for bicycles can be a wonderful gift during COVID-19 maintain social distance in road.  Government don’t need huge money for this, here is need a decision. 

Writer: Sowmik Das Sowmya
Student of B.Sc. Hons.
Department of Environmental Science and Resource Management
Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, Tangail-1902

BDST: 1822 HRS, JUN 02, 2020

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