LAHORE - Traffic managers’ new policy on helmet use has drawn public ire and criticism widely and people are demanding withdrawal of the order forthwith.

City Traffic Police declared helmet mandatory for bikers and pillion riders, even women and children.

The policy will be applicable from November 1, but public expressed serious concerns over it and termed it cruel and unjustified.

“This is nothing but to target the jobless, poor and middle class people in the name of safety. No action will be taken against those who have cars and who run them freely on roads without caring for lanes,” said Osama Ahmad, a motorcyclist.

“This is just targeting the common man and nothing but cruelty,” he said. He said: “My cousin lost his legs on bike on Ferozepur Road—where there is no separate lane for motorcyclists.”

Ahmad also referred to another man who became handicapped due to his accident at Jail Road Signal free corridor, saying that “Arshad, who is my friend’s friend, got severe injuries after falling from the bike on Jail road Signal Free Corridor. A car rammed into his bike and left him injured and there was no signal for a long queue of fast running cars,”.  “Thank God, he is safe,” he further said.

At Mall, a family ridding bike, told this scribe that they had been informed by a warden about strict use of helmet. “We can’t buy helmet for every bike rider which is now available at Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 as we have already been dying due to inflation, said Karamat Hussain.  His wife and children were stunned besides him on the bike.

“I bought this helmet after saving money for several days,” he said while referring to his helmet he was wearing.  The family came down hard upon the traffic policy and showed worrisome over the new condition of helmet use for every bike rider. “We can’t afford helmet for every bike rider at the same time,” Hussain said.   

Many families live on both sides of The Mall and they frequently use motorcycles to buy things from the nearby markets but the City Traffic Police’ new policy has made it difficult for them to move without helmet. A number of citizens have been using plastic helmets only to avoid traffic challans and not for their own safety.

“Every time, it is not possible for us to use helmet,” Naveed Ahmad said, a resident of Mall road, adding that “It is not practicle,”.   “How can we wear helmets and make our family members bound to wear them to go to nearby places on bike?” he raised a question.

Besides it, many factors involving the public safety including the broken footpaths, faded signs and reflectors as well as signal free corridors have completely been ignored.  Even the motorcyclists have not been provided separate lanes for their bikes on the city roads. 

With the new policy of the city government, the helmet prices have gone high and out of peoples’ reach.  A normal helmet is available against Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,800 while a quality helmet is not let than Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 in the markets.  Many vendors have been seen on the city roads while selling helmets to the commuters.  

Talking to The Nation, City Traffic Police spokesperson Syed Hammad Raza said the traffic police were all set to enforce “Helmet” for every biker and pillion rider from November 1. He said this would be a unified policy across the city and not just The Mall.

“We have announced this policy for safety of the public and it would be everywhere in the city and not just The Mall,” said Syed Hammad Raza. “The work is also being done by every aspect to save the public from getting injured on the roads,” he added.