LAHORE - The trend of one-wheeling or motorcycle race has picked up momentum as the holy month of Ramazan revives nightlife in Lahore where young motorcyclists rule city roads during the small hours.

Despite horrible deaths and fatal injuries, the sport is going unchecked in the metropolis where the police are unable to control the deadly game involving bikers in great numbers.

In the absence of police patrolling, these motorcyclists take over the Canal Road on Saturday and Sunday from midnight to pre-dawn. They perform stunts on their two-wheelers, participate in the race, and receive applauds from a good number of spectators.

The Canal Road from Dharampura underpass to FC College (Muslim Town More) and New Campus Bridge to Doctors’ Hospital (Johar Town) underpass becomes race ground for the wheelers. During the race, the spectators also play gamble on their favourites like Derby (horse race). The organizers also collect cash from each player as token fee and the winner gets the amount.

Zeeshan alias Munna leads his group in motorcycle race on every weekend on the Mall. Several college students, mechanic, and shopkeepers are members of his group. Zeeshan’s opponents are called Pappu group. In several parts of the metropolis, the one-wheelers play hide and seek with the police. Some of them are caught but released after paying minimal fine. The police also don’t consider the one-wheeling as a serious crime or violation.

Many people believe that one-wheeling or motorcycle race on busy roads is dangerous trend, which result in deaths of over a dozen youngsters every year in Lahore. But the young motorcyclists say they never thought that it is an unsafe game.

“This is a simple motorcycle race and a game. We enjoy it a lot,” says Imran Ali, an active member of Munna’s group. He said that they had to ride two-wheelers on the busy road because the city lacks recreational facilities. He claimed that he had been doing one-wheeling for the last one decade but never faced an accident. “If you have good control over the bike, you will definitely enjoy the ride,” he said. “Actually, untrained youngsters cause accidents.” 

Muhammad Aslam, a schoolteacher says that these young bikers are a social nuisance who not only put their own lives in danger but also they put the lives of other motorists at risk. Referring to his personal experience, he said that once he had to apply emergency brakes when he was driving on the Canal Road after Iftar as a group of bikers closely passed his car while performing stunts and wheeling on the bikes.

Driving on the canal road becomes very difficult in presence of such bikers especially during the night, he added.

The practice of motorcycle-wheeling has been continued in Lahore for the last two decades. Now, the trend is gaining popularity among the youth in other big cities of the Punjab province. Also, these bikers run through the city roads on important occasions like the Independence Day, New Year Night, Eid, Shab-e-Baraat, Ramazan and many others. We now see the same bikers carrying out their stunts in different rallies and protests as well.

According to social scientist, Muhammad Waseem, young motorcyclists are often seen riding their bikes on the back wheel during the day and night doing zigzagging, and juggling and performing other dangerous stunts like lying flat on the seat of a moving bike, driving inversely and doing other dangerous tricks.

The motorcycles used in race one-wheeling are specially repaired, maintained, and decorated. Most of these bikes run without silencers and the owners make sure to give their bikes a complete make-over so that they have dazzling headlights, awkward designs without mudguards and fuel tanks adorned in different colours. Most of the wheelers even don’t wear helmets.

Over a dozen youth die every year in Punjab while performing one-wheeling, which is strictly banned. Two young men were killed after their motorcycles bumped into each other in Muslim Town area in September 2015. Both the motorcyclists died while performing stunts on their two-wheelers on the Canal Road. According to police, Malik Ehtesham of Gowalmandi and Arshad Hussain of Ichhra were doing one-wheeling on the canal road after midnight when the accidents occurred.

Three youth had lost their lives in a similar fashion while celebrating the Independence Day in 2014.

A senior police officer said that the motorcyclists come on the roads in great numbers and “it become very difficult for a police squad to catch them. “This is basically the responsibility of the parents to keep a check on the activities of their children. They should not allow underage driving,” the officer said. He also admitted that the police crackdowns on the one-wheelers proved a futile exercise in the past.