Jam? What jam?
Surprise, surprise! Why are these headlines – Traffic goes haywire, City chokes on jam and so on -- hogging the newspaper pages? So, what if the cars stop dead on the streets?
More surprises when I scroll through the comments on Facebook. People are screaming, crying, fuming at how late they were to work because of snarl-up.
Well, I did not feel anything and I crisscrossed this small city and reached all the spots on time yesterday! What was wrong with all these people!
Uh-huh! Now, I understand. They were sitting inside those immobile boxes on four round black things called wheels which are supposed to spin but actually were as still as the sitting turtle’s round shells. And me? I was happily paddling by them on my bicycle, going to Gulshan and then again to Mohammadpur and then to Elephant Road.
I zipped through the inert vehicles, sometimes gleaning an amused smile at all these people, perfectly sound and healthy but unbelievably lazy who find it too much on their ego to leave their cars and walk. Or find it too trivial and possibly childish the idea of cycling around and save at least three hours of one’s time every day. That is exactly stretching their lives by three hours multiplied by 30 days, making it 90 hours a month or nearly four days.
But no, they won’t. Instead, they would sit smugly in the backseat of their cars like my friend Sharier and his wife do and add layers to their already inflated tummy and strain their brain to numbness by playing that insane game Candycrush. I wonder what happens to their poor back after such hunched sitting for such a long stretch of time!
In fact, the only solution to Dhaka’s traffic jam for now is for its citizens to go cycling. Dhaka is probably one of the few cities that are so reluctant to lure people to paddle down to work. And we probably have the fewest cycles per capita. Take USA, the most car-loving country. Even they have 32 percent people cycling. The Netherlands has the highest 99 percent people riding bikes Denmark has 80 percent, Germany 75 percent, China 37 percent and Japan 43 percent. And how many of us own a cycle?
We find more and more cities making their city roads car free to allow cyclists ride freely. After experiencing the curse of car driving Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway and many more countries are announcing bicycle schemes. You do not even need to buy a cycle. You can subscribe membership of a cycle management company and walk up to the nearest cycle stand, pick any bike and ride to your destination. Then you leave your bike at another stand for others to use.
Civilisation is going backwards on good grounds. Only we are trying to leap forward only to get stuck in snarl-ups.