Pedal safely: A ride to remember late Gurugram cyclist
Delhi Riders, Folks on Forks, Biking Buddies and Road Riders were some cycling groups that gathered to pay tribute to Subhendu Banerjee (left), who died in a road accident.
The recent death of Gurugram-based cyclist Subhendu Banerjee, 50, who lost his life after being hit by a luxury car near Mahipalpur flyover, has brought back attention to the lack of safety of cyclists on the city roads. To honour Banerjee and demand for better safety and infrastructure for their community, many riders from different cycling groups of Delhi-NCR gathered on Sunday morning for a memorial service ride from Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Gurugram to Teen Murti Marg in Delhi.
“It was a sad and sober ride, but it felt good to see the large turnout. On the way, we also encountered many regular commuters on bicycles, going about their daily business. They may not have the time to spare for such an event, but they deserve safety as much as we leisure cyclists do,” said Manas Fuloria, a Gurugram-based cyclist. Citing data to highlight the gravity of the issue, Fuloria added, “The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi estimates that nearly 40% of deaths on Indian roads are of cyclists and pedestrians. In line with PM Modi’s Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) call, we must make every kilometre of every road safe, friendly and inviting for cyclists and pedestrians who don’t add to air or noise pollution, or to global warming.”
“We feel a sense of solidarity,” shared another Gurugram-based cyclist, Alok Mittal, explaining that the service ride “wasn’t a protest”, but was a collective initiative to remember the departed soul. “All of us riders have had a close brush with accidents. We relate to how unsafe the roads are for cyclists and pedestrians because there really are no spaces to ride safely in NCR. Within the city, there are no demarcated lanes. In Gurugram, the most popular routes would either be the highways, like Delhi to Manesar, or the Gurugram-Faridabad road. And even though cycling on a highway is not ideal, it becomes the default choice in the absence of designated tracks,” said Mittal, adding, ”You can’t put a full stop to riding. So, more safe places need to be created for sustainable commute.”
Also reiterating the long-standing demand for better cycling tracks for riders’ safety, Sarika Panda Bhatt, a road safety expert who was at the memorial service, said, “On one hand, government is encouraging more people to walk, cycle and use public transport to reduce pollution, but on the other, there is no focus on constructing safe cycling and walking infrastructure. It’s been more than a decade that we have been talking about safe and dedicated cycling tracks and footpaths, but the progress we see on the roads are only in the form of foot over bridges and underpasses... We desperately require changes in infrastructure to ensure more cyclists do not lose their lives.”
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