Stop the speed devils | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Stop the speed devils

mumbai Updated: Sep 22, 2009 01:09 IST
Karthik Balasubramanian

Riding a bike over 100 kmph at Marine Drive, a drag racer almost lost his life. On Thursday midnight, a 21-year-old motorcyclist was racing with around 20 others on the 3-km long Marine Drive when he crashed into a taxi taking a turn and sustained severe injuries.

The police reached the spot, drew up a panchnama and took the injured to Sion hospital.

Within minutes, the other bikers resumed the race on the near-empty Marine Drive stretch where the speed limit is 55 kmph.

The motorcyclist — the police refused to reveal his name — was discharged from hospital on Sunday.

Additional Commissioner of Police (South Zone) R.K. Padmanabhan said he was unaware of the accident and did not want to say “anything offhand regarding the drag racers at Marine Drive”.

“It’s [drag racing] an illegal practice and taints everyone associated with it. They are a menace to motorists and community members,” said Nitin Dosa, executive chairman, Western India Automobile Association.

But drag races are a common sight after midnight at Marine Drive in south Mumbai and Bandra Reclamation in the western suburbs.

About 20-25 motorcyclists race, without helmets, at speeds touching 120-130 kmph, said taxi drivers at Marine Drive.

“We have seen these bikers crash and get hurt,” said taxi driver Sheikh Juned Ahmed (25), waiting at a taxi stand near Oberoi hotel.

“Drag racing is safe only in a controlled environment, and if you are racing on roads, you are risking your life,” said Vishal Kataria (26), a member of the Thane Yamaha RD 350 Club.

“Even Valentino Rossi (champion motorcycle racer) says he rides carefully on roads. If a biking god obeys traffic rules, I don’t see how insignificant bikers like us can do otherwise,” added Kataria.

Vipin Rathod (35), a driver, said the policemen stationed next to Framroz Courts simply watch as the bikers zip past.

What residents cannot understand is why the police do not patrol the area near NCPA — where the races start — every night.

“They can round up pedestrians who stay past midnight but can’t be bothered about these racers,” said Jeetu Solanki (25), who drives a Victoria.

“We don’t have nakabandis at all times because commuters get unduly delayed,” said Sub-Inspector Sudhir Garud of the Marine Drive police station.

The electronic signboard warnings reminding commuters of the speed limit are enough, he added.