To get some relief from the city’s horrendous traffic congestion and the dreadful public transport, more and more people, each day, are considering bicycles as their mode of transport. Commuting by cycling is much faster, cheaper, and relatively peaceful compared to other modes that are available.
In fact, cycling for commuting and for recreational purpose has become more popular than ever before in the country. To cope with the demand, bicycle showrooms and repair and maintenance workshops are sprouting throughout the city.
However, riders say that one of the biggest challenges they face when commuting in Dhaka is parking.
The city lacks a safe bicycle parking space, and cyclists have also complained that several commercial areas like the Multiplan Centre, Tokyo Square Shopping Mall, etc prohibit parking bicycles in their premises.
The mall authorities argue that they prohibit parking because bicycles get stolen easily.
Commuting by cycling is becoming popular not only in Dhaka but also in many cities around the world. As a green mode of transport, bicycles help to build a liveable and healthy city.
In fact, the Dutch prime minister cycles to work every day.
Corporations, organisations, and institutions have also joined hands with city authorities and governments in many countries to promote cycling by providing cycling friendly infrastructures and facilities.
Since bicycles are more vulnerable to theft than motorised vehicles, residential, commercial and other types of developments, and transit hubs in many cities around the world are taking necessary steps to ensure their security.
Even in Dhaka there are several shopping malls, markets, and institutions such as Bashundhara City, Shimanto Square, Aziz Super Market, North South University etc that have been providing impressively safe bicycle parking area in their premises.
Just taking a few simple steps can ensure a safe bicycle parking area
To ensure a safe bicycle parking area at the Bashundhara City, the parking staff notes down the identification information of the cyclist and visible features of their bicycle and then provides them a token accordingly.
To further enhance parking security, the mall authority has installed security cameras and also assigned security guards who continuously guard the area. The guards do not allow anyone without a token to enter the bicycle parking area.
The best thing is that the mall authority provides all these service with a nominal fee of only Tk6.
This shows that ensuring bicycle parking and security does not require any specialised knowledge or expertise, nor does it require expensive technology. Just taking a few simple steps can ensure a safe bicycle parking area.
Many may argue that a lack of space may be one reason why many malls are reluctant to provide bicycle parking space. However, it does not take much space to provide a bicycle parking space as at least eight bicycles can be parked in a space where only one car can be parked.
Many may even argue that it may be difficult for shopping malls that originally did not consider bicycle parking space in their parking plan to later provide bicycle parking space because that may require reducing the car parking space, which may hurt their business.
However, even if the original parking plan does not consider parking spaces for bicycles, bicycle parking can still be provided by turning the abandoned spaces of the premise into bicycle parking space as it does not have any stringent requirements like a car parking space.
Moreover, the notion that providing bicycle parking hurts business is a myth as there is no study or report that supports this. If it really did then in a car friendly city such as Bangkok, luxurious shopping malls such as Central World would not have restriped their parking area to provide bicycle parking space. In fact, providing bicycle parking is a “tried and tested way to attract customers and boost revenue.”
As another new year is approaching, cyclists in the country are hopeful that, instead of moving backwards and being an obstacle to promoting cycling, shopping malls and other developments in the country that prohibit bicycle parking will take necessary steps to provide safe bicycle parking space in their premises and join the movement of promoting cycling to build a modern, green, healthy, and liveable Dhaka city that we all envision.
Ridwan Quaium is a transport engineer working in Australia.