Cycling is the most eco friendly and healthy mode of commute which solves many modern day problems in India such as reducing pollution , reducing traffic and bring better health prospects to people etc. But before opting for cycling, one is often deterred by the crazy traffic in India and starts having second thoughts.
Is riding Bicycle Safe in India?
Some people make their own assumptions while others try to figure out by googling where you mostly get "Manipulated Answers about Cycling".
We have been riding cycles and Ebike for quite a while now in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. We have extensively traveled around India on motorcycle and cars. What we have come to believe is that cycles, in fact, is the safest and fastest commute option. So how this question of safety has popped in recent years? It all comes from the 'The manipulated Answers' from posts on differ blogs and search result on google first page from some news portal like ndtv calling cycling as most unsafe with headline "Cycling In India: Is It Worth The Risk?"
Risk ! SERIOUSLY? This article didn't stop there, it further went on saying "cycling has today become one of the most dangerous vehicles in India and has put its riders to great risk"
IT's NOT TRUE It's a manipulated article which doesn't give any facts to support its claim.
Finding more about this 'Risk', we did some research, so let's see in details how unsafe is cycling compared to other commute with data from Road accident report 2016. You can verify using the detailed 117 page report or let us give you a brief to understand the report easily.
As per the report, Total No of road accident in 2016 were 4,80,652. Out of which 29.4 % happened on 2 wheelers. Now when it comes to cycling, most people portray the number of two wheeler accident as cycle accident without verifying the details. And then they start promoting cars and motorcycle for a safe commute. But you will be shocked to know that cycle accidents accounted for less than 0.9 percent of total number of accidents in India.
The row B mentions Non-Motorised vehicles which consist of cycles, cycle-rikshaw, hand drawn vehicles and animal drown vehicles . They all together make 0.9 % only. Lets take further drill on data to know how many people actually met accident riding bicycles and in what circumstances. This could give some more info for people who are still afraid of 0.9 % bicycle accident as compared to 30 % on motorcycle and 28% on car. Another shocking result says, most accident happened in rural areas as compared to urban area. Which clearly means that riding in big cities is much more safer than riding in small town in India which could reduce problem of pollution like smog in Delhi whereas people have developed an opposite mindset of big cities more unsafe for bicycle riding. More than 50% overall accidents happen in rural areas which is true because most people in village side don't follow traffic rules whereas people do follow some traffic rules because of challan in big cities.
We indeed admit that bicycle riding in other countries is much safer with better infrastructure for cycling. India will definitely need a lot of time to build such infrastructure and it will take further time if we don't start creating awareness and promote cycling for daily commute.
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Imagine why would government prefer to build a cycle lane when everyone wants to go to office in car?
A huge country with population of 1.4 billion, the demand needs to be really high for the government to bring the change in current system. And we as cyclist are not close to that because a lot of us who want to start cycling for healthy and green India are afraid of riding on city roads here. An undeniable point is that few cycle riders in India try to break traffic signals as they are not riding a motorbike. And a lot of accidents do happen because of cycle rider's faults too. From the same report an another surprising data says(Other objects being cycle, rikshaw, tree and animals),
You can see from above data that (take only first and last row), under other object catagories (page 74 of report), out of all the accident happened in 2016. 17,835 accidents happened because of cyclist, rikshaw driver and also because of other objects like tree. A little further drill gives more idea about the reasons for accidents. As per page 91 of the report, more than 50% of total people who had accidents including car bus truck cycle and everything are uneducated. It can be safely assumed that uneducated people are usually less aware of the traffic rules. If you have traveled on road across india , you will realise people in rural area usually don't care to follow traffic rules. Crossing highways in running traffic to riding 3 people on one motorcycle at very high speed without any safety helmet . In such situations, an accident could easily take someone's life. So its not only the infrastructure which is responsible for accidents across India, its also the education about following traffic rules .
So it's not cycle and bad roads which are only responsible for riding in India. There are many factors . But even if we include all the factors in India, still the data shows Cycling is the safest with minimum maintenance way to commute in India. To reduce the accidents and injuries, one can take some precautions and safety measures to make it much safer than any other vehicles and reduce the cycling accidental injuries.
Precautions and safety measures to reduce the cycling accidental injuries in India
1) Wear helmet :- if you are riding on heavy traffic roads or highways 2) Always follow traffic rules :- Does not matter if you are riding a cycle , you still need to follow traffic rules in India as a lot of accidents happen (page 66-67 from report). A lot of accidents happen on traffic lights and signal where people just don't care to wait for few minutes and are in hurry
3) Wear reflective vests :- these are a great way to stand out from the crowd in traffic. Research has shown that riders wearing reflective jackets not only in dark but curing day time also, keeps riders safe. While riding in dark, reflective jackets are a must. They are simply as important as helmets.
4) Safety Night Lights :- Riding in dark is really scary in city traffic. But safety night lights make sure that riders are visible from far off, and speeding cars / bikes can stay away from bikes. A paltry sum of 200 bucks can ensure your safety on the road.
If riders take some basic safety precautions, riding a cycle is pretty safe in India. And by far the healthiest.