Sunday, June 7, 2009
Back to Bicycle
The recently introduced ‘Back to Bicycle’ and ‘Walk to School’ campaigns are noble initiatives –on paper. For them to actually come to the roads certain basic issues must be addressed –issues that forced men to buy motorcycles and girls to become pillion riders in the not too distant past.
In one way, the Walk to School program is already 80% achieved even before it is launched. That’s because approximately that proportion of parents who take kids to primary schools are women and nearly all of them walk –not a problem because in most cases primary schools are within walking distance. The remaining 20% of parents are men who take their kids on motorcycles. It will be this 20% who must be persuaded to walk to school. In order to facilitate this they must be given more time off from work.
Imagine someone who works in Ghaazee building. If he has to take a kid to Taajuddin School he will need about 40 minutes for the 3-way trip. It will take a lot of persuasion to make someone do this in the mid afternoon sun, especially if that someone has a motorcycle. Further if 40 minutes of the one hour break is spent for the trip, he will need an additional half an hour for lunch.
Not long ago, most people in Male had bicycles. Girls used to ride nice looking brands of bicycles instead of riding behind someone. All this stopped mainly because of uncontrolled bicycle theft. Motorcycle thefts are relatively less common, not because they are more difficult to steal, but because they are more difficult to dispose off since they require registration and regular updating of fee payments.
Looking back on the whole thing, bicycles could have been retained on the streets if some minimum facilities were provided. For example, keeping a parking attendant or two around Huravee/Ghaazee building area and a few other strategically located places could have prevented a lot of thefts. But that was the past. How do we do it now?