By: Zara Maqbool
After many years I spent quite a few days in Lahore because of a family wedding. What is important is not that I stayed in the walled city but because of the wedding I had to travel more than just a trip from my parents house to my in laws house. And the experience of that after many years was more than what words could describe.
Motorcycles! Seriously how many are there in the city? And why in the world are these men allowed to ride them like they do on the death well in the lucky Irani circus? I feel they are not ordinary men using a vehicle but actually stunt men who ride without fear and all fury. Alone or with families sharing the bike, the speed and recklessness with which they are ridden is mind-boggling.
But the question is what about us? Yes, not everyone can afford a car and when I expressed my horror at the quantity of motor bikes in Lahore I was met with the reaction, “ how selfish!” What about those who cannot afford a car?”
And that is what inspired me to write this blog because my objection is not on the quantity of the riders but the quality of how they ride around in the city. There is no traffic sense, they try to squeeze in wherever they can and cut corners without any remorse for bumping into other cars.
One bike came and bumped into my car this week only but before I could get out of the car and protest, he had rushed off. There is simply no stopping them!
Many a times I have prayed for the safety of families with little children sitting on these fast bikes. Once I remember a sleeping toddler sitting in the front, his head nodding back and forth while the father recklessly rode left and right.
So is there any accountability? Any speed limit defined? I see many riding without helmets and apparently the law of wearing one hasn’t been implemented in Punjab.
There are numerous incidents of bike incidents on a daily basis including fatalities and casualties lined up in government hospitals. So what is the Punjab government doing for the safety of these riders and the safety of others on the road. Defining the speed limit, restricting the number of people on the bike and ensuring helmets are worn can be a starting point. Expecting separate lanes can be a tall order although if so much money can be spent on massive road networks, coming up with a separate lane might make moving around in Lahore a far more pleasant experience than it is at the moment.
I don’t exaggerate a bit when I say that the quote, ‘my heart came in my mouth’ came true everytime I was on the road.
It’s not that Islamabad doesn’t have its share of motorbikes but there is a grave contrast between their traffic sense and speed and basic traffic etiquettes that are grossly lacking in Lahore.
I also found the traffic police in Lahore totally indifferent to the chaos around them. Not underestimating their efforts but then maybe more need to be recruited to keep a check on these stunt men who carelessly and without any care ride around the city reminding me of an Urdu saying, “ sir pe kafan baandh ker gjar se nikle hain..”. As long as their actions have no bearings on others I am good but then when it affects others, some action needs to be taken to contain their risky behavior!