Motorcycles can’t cross 30 km/h threshold in cities

Government wants to reduce motorcycle accident related deathsSoyel Rana

A nine-member committee led by road transport and highways division joint secretary Md Anisur Rahman has prepared a draft policy, ‘Motorcycle Movement Policy, 2023’ to reduce motorcycle related accidents, encourage the use of scooters instead of sports bikes and raise awareness among motorcycle users.

According to the draft, motorcycles inside Dhaka can’t go over the speed of 30 km/h. Motorcycles with less than 126 cc would be barred from moving on highways and no one can travel on the passenger seat of a motorcycle on highways.

In the committee, representatives of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET), police and road and highways department are present.

The draft is likely to get the approval of the ministry very soon, ministry officials have said.

“It’s true that motorcycles are needed. But if motorcycles become a substitute to public transportation, then the number of deaths from accidents will increase. It’s especially important to control motorcycle movement on highways,” Anisur Rahman, the committee’s head, told Prothom Alo.

He also explained why they are emphasising on increasing the number of scooters, “China and many other countries are focusing on slower motorcycles. The main intention behind that is to reduce accidents. The government is trying to do the same. The main goal is to reduce the loss of life.”

A woman rides a scooter in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 8 September 2022.

According to BRTA, out of the 5.6 million (56 lakh) registered vehicles in the country, more than four million (40 lakh) are motorcycles.

The reduction of motorcycle prices since 2018 and the rise of ride sharing services are chief reasons for the rapid increase in the number of registered and unregistered motorcycles.

According to the Bangladesh Passengers’ Welfare Association, 945 people lost their lives in motorcycle related accidents in 2018. By 2022, the number increased to 2,533.

A research conducted by BUET’s Accident Research Institute (ARI) in 2021 funded by the World Bank showed that out of the 16 countries with the highest number of motorcycles, Bangladesh has the highest death rate.

For every 10,000 motorcycles, 28.4 people are losing their lives in accidents.

As per the draft, pregnant women, elders and children younger than 12 can’t travel as passengers on a motorcycle. The draft also barred sellers from selling motorcycles to buyers without a license.

A man along with five kids takes ride on a motorcycle for Eid shopping in Monohorpur in Cumilla on 6 May 2021.
S Sadek

The draft policy has also suggested giving tax exemption on scooters and raise taxes on sporty motorcycles.

A BRTA source said that countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia also have a lot of motorcycles. But the number of motorcycle accident related deaths is much lower because in those countries, majority use scooters and not sports bikes.