It’s after midnight. Dozens of young men line up with their bikes along the western express highway — some alone, some with a pillion rider, still others riding triples. And then, they begin. Zipping past the light traffic, racing and doing stunts between Bandra reclamation and Kherwadi.
The racing and stunts, according to the police, have made this a lethal stretch. To bring down the number of deaths, the Bandra police have started cracking down on rogue bikers who have converted the highway into their personal racing track — not the first such crack down, but a necessary one in the wake of repeated fatal accidents, including the Sunday night incident that killed one biker near the sea link.
This month alone, the police have registered 17 cases against bikers for speeding at night and have seized their bikes. Officials said the men raced on pretty standard bikes, usually Pulsars and KTMs. A former racer told HT the races usually take place on Mondays and Saturdays. Some bikers race for money, between Rs5,000 and Rs25,000 a race. But many simply enjoy the thrill.
“We have intensified checkpoints between Friday and Sunday at spots that bikers frequent,” said P Thakare, senior inspector at Bandra police station. Officials said the checkpoints were put up over the weekend as there are fewer vehicles.
The stretch near Kherwadi junction — while it fits the bill for bikers looking to speed — also happens to be one of Mumbai’s most accident-prone spots, HT found in a recent survey. This adds to the risk two-wheeler riders already face. In 2015, most road deaths were of bikers.
Officials have armed police with cameras to record bikers when taken into custody. This, said sources, will help identify bikers during future crack downs. These are not the first initiatives the police have undertaken to reduce fatalities.
In May, the Kherwadi police gave 13 speeding bikers arrested for rash driving haircuts. Last year, the Bandra police registered cases against bikers speeding near the promenade.