Many a time, I have been asked, “How do you feel when you cycle?”
My answer has always been the same, “Each time it’s different.”
I hear many complaints, a lot of bad things about the roads and the traffic. To many people, it’s a lot to deal with if you are on bicycle in Dhaka. To me, it’s just the perfect ride both for the atmosphere and for the environment.
I started cycling on the streets of Dhaka in 2010. My reason was simple at that time. One of my seniors needed a partner for a country tour. And I was happy to be that partner. But there were problems. I did not have a bicycle and most importantly, I was not a good rider. I learnt to ride a cycle when I was in 10th grade. After that I did not even try it for about six years. So it was quite ambitious of me take part in a country tour. But I did manage to do that. It was quite an adventure, the tour. I will keep that for some other time.
I did not use the cycle for about a month after the tour. I did could not find any use for it. One morning, I was waiting for to take a rickshaw to the university I attended and I was getting late for the exam that had been scheduled for that day. I waited, waited and waited…
Then suddenly I had the idea that I could use my bicycle. I did that and it took me only ten minutes to get the university, a journey that would usually take about about half an hour.
That was it. The start. From that day, I cycle everywhere. It saves enormous amount of time and money. Some days, I do not have my wallet on me and I don’t even notice it.
People ask me why I prefer bicycles. Not a silly question when you are in Dhaka, as rickshaws are environment-friendly and buses are reckless.
Which medium of transportation is safe in Dhaka? Yet, statistics show that bicycles are less accident prone than any other ride in Dhaka. Most severe casualties are of motorbikes.
Also they ask why I do not wear a helmet.
I do not wear helmet, but I do advice others to use it. It’s better to err on the side of good. My reason is‑ I consider myself a normal being like our working class. People in Bangladesh, especially the working class, have used bicycle from the time they were introduced. They do not have helmets and if they can feel safe, I should too. Also I do not speed. I save a lot of time, so there is no need to rush to save a little bit more or to show off.
But I was involved in an accident and only had myself to blame. Bicycles need servicing from time to time and if you are not cautious about it, there can be incidents even in the empty streets. Like I had.
Bicycles are light, easy to handle. I can’t say they are the fastest, but they are certainly the best thing if you are stuck in traffic in Dhaka. To me it has become a way of life. When something becomes an integral part of your daily life, it does create an influence. An influence that can change your thought and ways of living. That’s exactly what has happened with me. The stories will keep coming from the next blog. Next week, I will tell you about a woman whom I met and who is about 55 years old, who has cycled all over the world. I will tell you about her trip to Bangladesh and how she cycled alone. Until then - goodbye.
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