A cycle rally vibrant with colours and messages took place at Hatirjheel today, Friday, in Dhaka to encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport, said a press release.
More than 100 enthusiastic male and female cyclists joined the event organised by the World Bank and development organisation BRAC.
The mass cycle ride began at 6.30 am at the Amphitheatre area to follow a circular route past Police Plaza, Rampura and the bridge near Mohanagar Abashik to finish at the starting point.
Khandker Golam Faruq, BPM (BAR), PPM, commissioner, Dhaka Metropolitan Police, attended the event as the chief guest, and formally launched the rally.
Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, was present at the rally as the special guest.
DMP commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq said, "Cycling is a good form of exercise and movement. But we do not have a friendly arrangement for this environment-friendly vehicle. Bicycle-specific lanes are common in many developed countries. They use bicycles to get to work and other places. Unfortunately, we do not have separate lane for bicycle in Dhaka. So, our encouragement goes mostly in vain."
"There are 22 types of transport that run simultaneously in the roads of Dhaka city, from pushcarts to all types of vehicles using the same road. Our townships are not planned properly. Our architects, city planners, and traffic engineers are not into it. We cannot fully open our footpaths for our people, many of whom are illegally occupied by street vendors," he added.
The DMP commissioner said, "The streets of Dhaka can accommodate around two hundred thousand cars. But we have twelve hundred thousand vehicles on the road. So, we have to suffer extreme environmental pollution, acute traffic and loud horn for these six times more cars. People get randomly infected with respiratory diseases. Traffic police are also affected by a lot of health issues."
"If we can build a proper environment for cycling, our health and environmental risks will be eliminated," the DMP commissioner added.
BRAC executive director Asif Saleh said, "We must rethink many things. As we have our health problems, the same applies to the environment. Cycling is equally beneficial to the well-being of our health and planet Earth."
"Our roads are predominantly for motor vehicles, not for bicycles. If we plan our city considering the safety of cyclists, especially while building new townships, more people especially young people will be encouraged towards cycling. We will continue this initiative in the coming days," said Asif Saleh.
Ahmed Najmul Hussain, director, BRAC Road Safety Programme, said the United Nations wants us this year to rethink mobility. They gave importance to three things in rethinking; walking and cycling to work and school, and use of public transport.
"We organised this cycle rally to popularise cycling among all. We believe everyone should use bycycle while commuting to work, school and business. We need infrastructure regarding this. We are conducting advocacy on the issue," he further said.
The UN Global Road Safety Week is being observed for the 7th time and this year the stretch of 15 - 21 May has been selected for its observance. Hashtags #RethinkMobility #StreetsforLife #RoadSafety is being used this year to promote the campaign on social media platforms to create mass awareness.