Women motorcyclists have said Veenu Paliwal, one of India’s best female drivers who died in a road accident on Monday, was a skilled biker and always stressed on wearing protective gear and following the rules.
Paliwal, a part of India’s small but growing number of women bikers, was killed after her Harley Davidson motorcycle skidded off a road while negotiating a turn near Gyaraspur in Madhya Pradesh’s Vidisha.
The lone female Harley-Davidson rider from Rajasthan was known for driving her bike at very high speed, but advocated road safety and was wearing protective gear at the time of her accident.
Maral Yazarloo and Seema Sharma Dora, members of a group of women bikers called Lady Riders of India, said Paliwal set an example for the women, as well as men, in the country.
“She was an excellent, experienced rider with great skills. She was very safe and absolutely cautious about speed and road safety. In the biking world, we never can judge and say what and how exactly the accident happened,” Yazarloo and Sharma Dora told Hindustan Times in an email.
“Nothing can describe the ecstasy and joy of riding a bike. It gives you a sense of freedom that can only be felt when you hit the road yourself although, it is crucial that you take all the necessary precautions. It is important to ride responsibly,” Urvashi Patole, founder of Bikerni, told Hindustan Times.
“Moreover, one should always invest in good protective gears. Never invest in cheap ones, because they crack like an egg shell when they collide into something because, at the end of the day, it becomes a matter of life and death,” she said.
Patole said most families do not allow their daughters to ride bikes because they are concerned about their safety on the roads.
“There are many challenges faced by a woman on a bike. More than the familial tussles, when on roads women bikers are eve-teased, followed, stalked shamelessly by men. The extent goes to even pushing them off their bikes. Moreover, their character is judged, they are subjected to insults, and are also belittled and defamed. The patriarchal society of India and the so-called ‘machoism’ of men gets offended when they see a women biker on the roads,” she said
“She was particular about all the gears. She was a motivating person, I used to follow her on social media. It’s a sad day for all of us,” she shared. “Whoever knew her was motivated by her ‘riding responsibly’ policy,” she added.
“Even if you go to a grocery shop nearby, do wear a helmet and be safe. I have seen women who tend to risk their lives by not wearing a helmet, just because they feel their hair will get messed up. That should not happen. And for aspiring riders, buy your bike later, but get proper riding gear at first,” Kashyap, the lone woman participant in the motorcycle category of the Raid de Himalaya 2015, said.
Arti Bhatia, another biker from Indore who rides a Harley Davidson bike, said Paliwal was an inspiration to many women riders.
“Veenu was always very cautious about wearing protective safety gear while riding and she held various awareness programs to educate bikers about road safety and various protective measures to ensure maximum safety. So it was only natural that it came as a huge shock to everyone when they heard about the sad demise of this amazing biker. She will be missed,” Bhatia, who has been riding since the past one year, said.
Bhopal’s Nitika, who rides Royal Enfield’s Continental GT and is a part of the ‘Born to Ride’ club in the city, too stressed on the need to follow safety rules.
“It’s a very sad day for bikers across the country, especially women bikers. Bike riding is very risky and the only force that motivates bikers is their passion which is why it becomes extremely crucial to wear protective gear at all times while riding, irrespective of the roads and terrain,” she says.
(With inputs from Anamta Saltanat)