Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Still no facilities for cyclists

World Bicycle Day today

Shahin Akhter

Star Mail photo

Bicycles are the cheapest and most environment-friendly mode of transport in easing traffic congestion and reducing environmental pollution in the capital city, said green activists and entrepreneurs.

Absence of separate lanes on roads and increased value added tax on spare parts, however, are hindering this mode of transport from becoming more popular in the country, they added.

Against this backdrop, World Bicycle Day is going to be observed today (Saturday) in Bangladesh along with different countries to make people aware of social benefits of using this vehicle.

Bicycle was a popular mode of transport in Bangladesh before recent expansion of different three-wheeler vehicles like easy bikes and motorcycles.

In Dhaka city, the vehicle is popular among young people for avoiding the traffic gridlock.

The National Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy 2013 puts provisions for separate bicycle lanes on urban roads.

But there is no separate lane for this vehicle in the city.

Most recently, finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in his budget speech on Thursday proposed to impose a value added tax and additional tariffs on a number of products to raise the tax-GDP ratio.

He also proposed to increase the customs duty from 10 per cent to 15 per cent on the import of freewheel sprocket wheels for bicycles.

Institute of Wellbeing, a non-government organisation working on health and environmental issues, on Friday observed the World Bicycle Day with other organisations by holding rally and sit-in programmes in the capital demanding withdrawal of increased tax on the bicycles.

The institute policy officer Talukder Rifat Pasha told New Age on Friday that currently due to price hike of essentials bicycles could be a way out for the common people to save some money.

‘This vehicle is highly environment-friendly and plays a role in reducing air and noise pollution,’ he said, adding that bicycles can ease traffic gridlock by reducing number of other mass transports on roads.’

He said that earlier on the spare parts of the bicycles there was 58 per cent tax while in the proposed budget for FY23-24 new tax was imposed.

‘There is no separate lane for this vehicle in the Dhaka city and this increased tax will discourage more people to use bicycles,’ Rifat continued.

He urged the government to set up separate lanes for bicycles to facilitate people.

Kamaruzzaman Kamal, marketing director of local bicycle maker Pran RFL, told New Age on May 28 that the bicycle industry is expanding in Bangladesh.

In the past two to three years, new investments are coming and bicycle selling is on the rise, he said, adding that that there are ups and down in every industry.

He said that the primary share of the bicycles had been imported from India and China while in Bangladesh bicycles were assembled by some local manufacturers.

The local share in bicycle industry is increasing, Kamaruzzaman Kamal also observed.

For assembling of bicycles 70 to 75 per cent parts will be imported while the rest can be produced locally, he said.

‘There are no separate lanes for bicycles on our roads for which bicyclists here have to run by tackling different obstacles,’ he said, adding that if there are separate lanes then it will encourage more people to buy bicycles.

Road Transport and Highways Division secretary ABM Amin Ullah Nuri told New Age on Friday that they were discussing with different stakeholders to get opinions to make this vehicle popular.

‘Our capital has huge population and we need to think rationally for making any plans,’ he added.

Earlier on April 12, 2018 the United Nations General Assembly approved June 3 as the official day of awareness about multiple societal benefits of using bicycle for transport and leisure.

In the same year (2018) the Bangladesh government observed the day.

Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority officials confirmed that this year no programme was taken by them to observe the day.

Article originally appeared on New Age.

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