Not too many days ago I was driving in my SUV from the Lahore Polo Ground back to DHA, after getting some exercise. At the intersection leading towards Defence Housing Society, a black Toyota Hilux stood in parallel to me at the front of the traffic light. Both our vehicles turned right at the intersection almost in parallel. I appreciated the manners of the Hilux driver who kept his vehicle in parallel to mine while taking the right turn unlike most drivers who take the shortest path and try their best to cut in to the right. After this turn a few meters from the intersection there is the R A Bazar road which joins the old Royal Artillery Bazar to the main Walton road.

Out came a motorbike rider from that road at quite a brisk speed and started driving at the left side. His bike, a Chinese 70cc one was in especially poor condition. Just like most of the bikes on the road there were no rear view mirrors present at all. In this case the indicators had fallen off and the tail light was also broken. The person riding it had a large sack of probably wheat or ATTA tied to the rear of the bike with a string. Suddenly, without looking, without indicating or giving any warning he decided to take a right turn and cut across the road at a sharp angle. Inevitably he hit the front fender of the black Hilux, which was only a few meters ahead of me. The Hilux driver had no chance of saving him. I was only a few meters behind and it could have easily been me getting involved in this accident.

Then literally all hell broke loose. The bike rider flew up in the air and violently hit the Military Police post poles on his back which are laid in the middle of the road due to the current security situation. I had my windows rolled down and I heard the noise of his back breaking. I would not like to go a lot more into more gory details of what followed but tosay the least my drive home took place in a somber state. A state of a combination of shock and numbness.

Everyday many such accidents happen on our roads in which motorcycle riders are involved one way or another. Sometime it is their indirect involvement whereas serious collisions take place while the drivers are trying to save them.

On the other hand the traffic police seems completely oblivious to this. While they are busy ensuring that all car drivers are wearing their seatbelts and are carrying complete documents and valid license, the sight of a tiny under age teenager carrying his 200 pound mother barely being able to balance the bike and still going through the red signal while cops look helplessly is not that uncommon at all. Generally it seems that the traffic police has given up on the bike riders. A family of seven on a 70cc bike is not stopped or questioned by the cops.

Their lights, indicators or mirrors are never checked. Every once in a while there is a half-hearted campaign to check if bike riders are wearing helmets or not. This is a complete mockery as well, since women sitting in the back, precariously balancing themselves on one side are not questioned and obviously neither are kids. This campaign usually ends soon making cops a few hundred rupees richer… to say the least.

A couple of decades ago I used to ride my Honda CG 125 from cavalry grounds to the Government College (now GCU) every day of the week. I wore a full face helmet, I had properly adjusted rear view mirrors, indicators and had working head and tail lights. Maybe not everyone wore a helmet but most bikers had rear view mirrors and drove calmly in the left lane. When they turned they did a hand signal or used indicators. There was absolutely no concept of three or more people on a bike getting past an intersection that had a cop present.

Another intriguing aspect of this scenario is that one often hears about crimes such as shootings conducted by terrorists on motorbikes.

After such a crime when a bike rider takes off and starts to ride like a maniac he will catch immediate attention of the authorities. But, since it is quite the norm for all bike riders to drive like maniacs so it becomes quite easy for the real criminal to do the same and merge with the rest without being pointed out by the authorities. Just imagine if all the bikers are riding in an organized manner following their lanes, is it possible for a shooter to get away without being very evident?

Every year about half a million motorbikes are being added to the roads. A new bicycle costs more than a used 70cc motorbike. Everyone wants a motorbike. Nobody wants to paddle anymore. For years the peon in my office used to run errands on his bicycle. He was fit as a fiddle and active. Now he travels around on his 70cc motorbike everywhere. He has no formal training of riding a bike. He tried to get the license but failed the test.

One possible explanation of the authorities being so oblivious to this situation may be that it is believed that these people have no choice but to do this. If someone has a large family and owns only a motorbike then what is the other possibility to commute anyway. The 200 pound mother needs to be carried to her destination, and the only person available to do this is the ten year old son. My theory is that the traffic authorities side with these people since they can relate to their situation. The politicians possibly support this scenario as well since these people are votes for them.

But does this argument really hold up? The man with his family on motorbike is most probably going for a social visit, the 200 pound woman is probably traveling to visit her sister to resolve a family dispute, my peon was able to drop his daughters to school for many years prior to his acquisition of his bike. I am not arguing that all travel on motorbikes is unnecessary but is a human life necessary to risk for a social visit? Do riders on motorbikes have to ride like they do? Are they really in a hurry all the time?

The government really needs to check on this situation. Shahbaz Sahrif can build the best elevated and signal free roads but these people will attack that road like the locusts attacking a wheat field and create difficulties for the others while they risk their own lives as well.

1) A few measures that can be taken are:

2) Strictly make bikers follow road rules and safety measures.

3) Every bike must have properly adjusted rear view mirrors with some training to the riders to use them properly.

4) Women should be encouraged to ride bikes. Small 50cc bikes without gears are easily available worldwide and very convenient to ride.

They can keep their dress codes and it is not against any norms of the religion. Malaysian and Indonesian Muslim women do it. In many cases a grown member of their family or their husband only provides the service of carrying them from home to their various work places and back. This way the other male member of family may be forced to become a more useful member of the society. It will be much safer than a teenager riding them to work.

A point should be made that the safety of his family is more important than the convenience and economy. This may also encourage people to hire Suzuki Bolans for family trips, which the government has distributed to the youth for provision of an income stream.