It started to accelerate with the introduction of ride-sharing services
Though the number of motorcycles doubled in Dhaka over the last eight years, experts have suggested controlling the two-wheeler as it is a 'very risky mode of transportation.’
According to statistics provided by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the number of registered motorcycles increased to 469,888 in April 2018 from 210,081 in 2010, reports UNB.
Around 75,251 motorcycles were registered with the BRTA in 2017, when different ride-sharing companies, including Uber and Pathao, introduced their bike services in the megacity.
Urban and transport experts said if the number of motorcycles continues to go up in the city, it will create anarchy in the traffic system and worsen traffic management.
Saying that the rate of motorcycle accidents is very high, they suggested the government streamline the public transport system to contain motorcycles in the city right now.
Urban expert and former chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC) Prof Nazrul Islam shared his bitter experience of falling victim to a motorcycle accident in the city.
"When I was crossing a road through zebra crossing in front of Oxford School in Dhanmondi-27 on May 31, a speeding bike hit me. I jumped to escape any serious injury, and sustained wounds in my legs and hands falling on the ground," he said.
"The motorcycle rider did not stop the bike and fled the scene. No one came forward to help me,” he said.
He assumed the motorcycle was of a ride-sharing service provider as both the riders were wearing helmets.
The urban expert said motorcycle riders hardly follow the traffic rules. "If the number of motorcycles goes up and the number of its alternative mode of transport does not increase, it will create anarchy in traffic system."
He said there should be separate lanes for motorcycles as in cities of developed nations.
Prof Nazrul, however, said car services of different ridesharing companies are traffic-friendly and particularly good for middle-class people.
Transport expert Prof Shamsul Haque of civil engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) said motorcycles are a commuter-friendly transport but not healthy for the city's traffic system as it is 'very risky' for both the biker and passenger.
"If the number of motorcycles goes up commercially, it will intensify the risk of commuters," he said.
Prof Shamsul said motorcycles are not recognised as public transport in developed countries.
"But the two-wheeler vehicles are used on narrow roads or lanes as a component of integrated public transport system in some countries."
He said the rise of motorcycle use should be stopped soon for the sake of commuters' safety and traffic discipline.
Prof Moazzem Hossain, director of Accident Research Institute at Buet, said the number of motorcycles is going up sharply on the city streets due to a substandard public transport system. "The rate of motorcycle accident is greater than all other motorised vehicles."
Mentioning that the speed of the city's buses is very low, he suggested allowing public buses to be operated by a single company to address traffic congestions in the city.
Though the ridesharing companies claim that their motorcycle services are getting good response in the city, service recipients accused them of being too commercial and providing substandard services.
Priyanka Kundu, 24, a workingwoman, said she frequently avails of the ridesharing service on her way to and from the office, but she finds the high speed of bikes very risky.
She also claimed that bikers refuse to go to her desired destinations in some cases.
When contacted through email, an Uber spokesperson refused to reveal the number of bikes registered with the company.
"We were incredibly excited with the launch of UberMOTO. It has received encouraging response from our riders and partners since its launch.
"The safety of riders and driver-partners is of paramount importance to us. We encourage bikers using the Uber app to act in compliance with all relevant local laws and rules of the road. Breaking laws can lead to bikers losing access to their account. In case of any incident or unpleasant experience, we urge riders to use the in-app feedback method to inform us of actions that threaten the safety of driver-partners and riders," the Uber spokesperson said.