25 Dec 2013

Danger On The Roads ~ post by Ankit Laroiya

Through this blog post, I would like to highlight a dangerous aspect of cycling on roads. It was the winter of 2011 when an accident left me with severe injuries in my right eye. I was riding with my fellow riders from Delhi to Murthal when I had to face the ire of reckless bikers plying on the wrong side of the road, oblivious to the fact that cyclists also have a right to the road. 

As is the rule, we were cycling on the left side when a biker coming from the wrong side of the road hit my cycle. Instead of being apologetic for the accident, he got aggressive and shouted at me for using the road. We tried to calmly explain that we were riding on the left and it was infact them on the wrong side but it had no effect. They told us that the road was meant for motorised transport and cyclists had no right to be on their turf. In order to avoid the matter from worsening since we had to head back to Delhi, we told them to let it be and that we should just go on our way. As they drove off, we started to pedal on to our destination. Hardly had 10 to 15 mins passed when we saw the bikers returning and before anyone could realise it, they came head on towards me and attacked me with an iron rod. As they smashed my face, they shouted out, 'Cyclists are not allowed here' and sped off. 

I was badly injured and bleeding profusely, unable to see due to my injured eye as my fellow cyclists gathered to get me help. Luckily some locals seeing my condition called an ambulance but when the doctor at the local hospital saw the seriousness of my injuries, he suggested that I be rushed to Delhi if I wanted to save my eye. It was my good fortune that an unknown rider offered to call his support vehicle and rushed me to the AIIMS trauma centre where the helpful staff took my case on priority and provided me with the best treatment. And as soon as I was able to, I took up the case with the police administration in Murthal. Now, this is when I saw the bad side of the police who in spite of knowing the identity of the bikers who attacked me, made no attempts to nab them and instead told me that I would be the one who would be troubled. In my condition, I wasn't capable of plying between Delhi and Murthal police station on a regular basis as the police said they would make me do for the case. With multiple eye surgeries lined up and a large family at home, I was left with no choice but to let things be.

This incident left me thinking that although we have people in our city (Delhi) who encourage cycling and in other metropolitan cities as well, there is a large majority of people who have no awareness or concern for cyclists or their safety. I now make it a point to tell as many cyclists to take all the precautionary measures while riding and not visit any place without proper information about it. The incident happened on a busy road and though all of us were riding in the by-lane, still we were blamed, not the bikers who were on the wrong side, carrying iron rods and beating people recklessly. The fact of the matter is that the onus is on us cyclists to be careful while riding and planning rides, and our safety is in our own hands.

As I write this, it's been almost two years since my accident and my eye has still not fully recovered. I remain a passionate cycling advocate but underline the need for safety while on the saddle. I hope my story will go towards bringing awareness and the need for safety measures for all cyclists. At the end, I would like to thank all my fellow riders, the unknown rider who came to my rescue like an angel and the doctors at AIIMS who provided timely treatment.

Stay safe friends. Happy riding

Ankit Laroiya

No comments:

Post a Comment