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21 September, 2020 07:59:37 PM

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Use of bicycle and walk can make our city livable

In order to discourage people from using private cars, authorities should increase access to public transports, encourage people to walk and should increase bicycling facilities
Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, PhD
Use of bicycle and walk can make our city livable

According to “World Traffic Index-2019” published by a research institute called “Nam Bio”, Dhaka took 1st position in traffic congestion. Not only that, Dhaka is also at the top of the time wastage and traffic inefficiency index.
Currently, people are using cars so much that traffic is one of the major problems in many countries of the world.

To solve this problem worldwide, every year on September 22, the "World Car-Free Day" is celebrated with various initiatives in many countries. The first “World Car-Free Day” was celebrated in 2000 and in 2006 in our country the day was celebrated by some people and individual organizations, by their own arrangement.
But in 2016 onwards our government started to celebrate this day for the first time. The purpose of this day is to unveil one day by making the roads free from excessive vehicles, making renovations and vacations, providing free spaces for sports or diversion, giving people some relief from the mechanical life for at least one day.
According to a research report published by the US-based organization Democracy International (DI) in 2017 on September 22, six percent of people in Dhaka City who use private cars occupy 76 percent of the road. Between six and eight percent of the road is occupied by public transport, and the rest of the road is taken by illegal parking. Thus, private car takes more space in the street than public transports. If we compare private cars with public transports, it is clear that private cars take more road space in less efficiency.
A survey by Stamford University Bangladesh's Department of Environmental Science found that three private cars, occupied by 12 people, take the same space as a bus that could accommodate 36 to 40 people. On the other hand, one private car occupies the same amount of space of a human hauler (tempo for example). But a human hauler can accommodate 14 people while a car can only take four. In some cases, the difference is that some wealthy family has at least two or more cars; therefore, for two to four people at least two private cars ply on the street, which can be easily replaced by 12 bicycles. As the use of private cars is increasing, the demand for fuels is also rising, increasing the rate of air pollution as well. A roundtable discussion titled "Traffic in Dhaka Metropolitan City: Financial and Health Problems" organized by BUET's Accident Research Institute (ARI) and the Road Safety Foundation proclaimed that everyday people lose 50 lakh working hours due to traffic jam and its financial value stands at Tk 37 thousand crores every year. In some cases, cars run at a spread of only 5 km per hour which is less than walking and cycling.
In the context of Bangladesh, emphasis should be placed on such vehicles that can accommodate most passengers in required space. In that case, the bus transportation facilities need to be increased. Currently, the use of private cars in Dhaka is increasing at an alarming rate. In order to discourage people from using private cars, authorities should increase access to public transports, encourage people to walk and should increase bicycling facilities.
World Car Free Day is also beneficial in terms of promoting other modes of transport, such as cycling and walking. Bicycle provides a whole host of benefits that many may not think of whilst initially considering their purchase. First and foremost, they are obviously a great way to ensure that one stay healthy and participate in some exercise. This is something which is becoming increasingly harder nowadays because most activities revolve around sitting indoors and playing on video games. Instead, by switching to a bicycle for going to work, for instance, someone is able to add some exercise and fresh air to the routine. One can do this without impacting schedule or having found more hours in the day. At the same time, to solve problems such as health hazard, fuel waste, traffic jams, waste of time in traffic etc., the use of bicycles should be encouraged. The bicycle is a vehicle that is environmentally friendly and healthy. Also, cycling reduces mental stress, reduces the risk of heart attack, increases immune resistance, regulates blood pressure, and improves cardiovascular fitness. There is no separate road or lane for cycling in our country, the demand for a separate lane for bicycles has been issued for a long time.
Finally, Covid-19 has taught us a lesson on how traffic mismanagement makes the capital uninhabitable and uninhabitable. And if there is no uncontrolled car and traffic jam, it is possible to move from one place to another in Dhaka straightforwardly. The destination can be reached in the shortest time with no air and noise pollution.

The writer is a professor and chairman, Department of Environmental Science, Stamford University Bangladesh. He is also Founder and Director, Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) & Joint Secretary, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA). E-mail: [email protected])

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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