Pioneering Cyclist Community
Have you ever thought of a community of bicyclists in the congested roads of the Dhaka city? Not necessarily. The recent growth of the bicycle industry may answer this. Firstly, bicycles provide a quick and easy way around the unbearable traffic jam. Secondly, the rise of some community groups, like BDCyclists, has especially contributed a lot to transforming riding a bicycle into a trend.
BDCyclists in the pioneering cyclist group in our country. It was founded in 2011 by a group of unified sightseers, who started going out of the city on bicycles every weekend to escape everyday’s hustle and bustle.
Now it has grown into a community for cyclists and which arranges rides for recreation, commute, health, and sheer fun. Their main objective is to promote cycling in Dhaka to help ease city’s pollution and traffic congestion.
“Initially, we were looking for a break from our monotonous life in the city, so we got together and started riding. There weren’t as many riders as there are today,” said Hamidur Rashid, one of the founding members and moderators of BDCyclists
To keep their members updated and well-connected, BDCyclists organizes and maintains a strong social media presence.
Hamidur also said: “Earlier, we arranged rides that hardly exceeded 100 km-200 km. But from the year 2012-13, we started to arrange rides that were covered in excess of 300 km a day. Our community started to growing rapidly more and more people who loved to travel joined.”
Anyone, either a student, a service holder, a business person, have a common goal of staying healthy in this stressful life, can be a part of this community.
Even those who can’t ride a bicycle can join their events. Few enthusiastic volunteers help teach new riders how to ride bicycles. Anyone can join as there is no registration fee. All bicycles, safety equipment, the effort of trainers are completely free. There is one catch only; the seats are limited. One has to register as early as possible.
Let’s talk about their success stories.
In 2013, the activities of this community came to the attention of the media. They were featured in several TV Interview, mainstream advertising, Television drama etc.
In 2015, the community hit 50000 members, with more enthusiastic cyclists joining every day. The group became one of the biggest active groups in Bangladesh, hosting more than 150 regular events a year.
The group hit 70,000+ members in 2016. With this newfound strength, they attempted to break the existing record of the longest single line riding a bicycle in Guinness World Record.
They succeeded, breaking the previous record held by the Cyclist Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015, where they rode 984 bicycles in an event organised during the Sarajevo Grand Prix. To break this, 1,186 BDCyclists members paddled their bikes for nine kilometres in a single line on December 16, 2016. They started near the International Convention City Bashundhara, crossed Boalia Bridge over the Turag River and returned to their starting point in a 30-minute ride. The global authority then handed over medals and certificates to those participants of BDCylists.
Today, BDCyclists is the largest community-based social network of our country. Consequently, it is getting larger.
It is being operated through a closed Facebook group and a public page moderated by a few devoted members. Their role is voluntary and they loved to do so to build the community.
Their goal is to spread their social objective way beyond the capital city. The instinct that drives BDCyclists is to promote cycling to help ease pollution, traffic congestion in the city and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
BDCyclists’ aim to convert 5% of the car-owning crowd of Dhaka to cycle commuters and promote bicycling is a mode of everyday transport in the country.
Addressing the challenges of the cyclists, Hamidur said ”We think some of the steps city authorities should consider include providing safe bicycle parking area in major locations of the city, as a lack of safe bicycle parking area is one of the major constraints to cycles in Dhaka.”
“Getting a separate lane for the cyclists is a reverie. We have talked to many authorities like BRTA, ministry of road transport and bridges, even with the minister regarding the separate lane. But the current status of the roads is not allowing a single space for the cyclist, which is risky for the cyclists,” he added.
Avoiding traffic congestion, shortage of public transport, the uncertainty of reaching destinations on time, and riding a cost-effective, environment-friendly, energy-saving and fully-owned vehicle has truly encouraged people to start cycling. To reduce traffic jam and save time, cycling can be a smart solution for Dhaka streets, rather than unfit motor vehicles.
It was found in a recent survey that due to traffic congestion, a vehicle can go up to only five kilometres per hour in the capital. Even 12 years ago, this speed was 21 kilometres per hour. Besides, the congestion eats up 5 million work hours annually. The financial loss is about BDT 37,000 crore a year; it’s necessary to say that the way traffic congestion is worsening day by day, it will further increase the number of financial losses.
Dhaka Cycling Club, Mirpur Cyclists, Dhaka-Northern Cyclists, Mohammadpur Cyclists are the existing bicyclist communities. These organisations encourage people to buy cycles and organise training programmes on how to ride through traffic. Apart from this, various awareness programmes on the benefits of cycling are arranged too.
Sadly, the daily experience of those who cycle in Dhaka is very awful. To them, it is a highly disorderly city. According to the Traffic Division of Bangladesh Police, many pedestrians in Dhaka lose their lives in road accidents every day. Therefore, it is very important to build separate lanes for cycles.
The “Reality” has to be placed in a separate inner section of the report. It is a spotlight.