Dhaka opts for two wheels instead of four

For practical reasons, Bangladeshi commuters are using bicycles on their way to the workplace. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 June 2020

Dhaka opts for two wheels instead of four

  • Several other commuters who spoke to Arab News said they found the humble two-wheeler to be the easiest and most affordable option

DHAKA: Traveling by carpool to work every day was never a problem for Shamia Nasrin Nipa, a 27-year-old resident of the Dhanmondi area in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
However, ever since a lockdown was imposed to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, she said it became challenging to maintain social distancing rules and a sustainable way of transportation as well.
To cater to both requirements, she switched to using a bicycle to commute to her workplace, which is 7 kilometers away, and told Arab News on Saturday that “there’s no turning back.”
“My journey to and from office became a matter of huge concern as there were no ride-sharing services on the streets due to the antivirus measures. Moreover, public buses are not safe enough either, as they increase the risk of infection. So, my bicycle became my savior,” Nipa, who works for an advertising firm in the city’s Gulshan area, said.  She is not alone. Several other commuters who spoke to Arab News said they found the humble two-wheeler to be the easiest and most affordable option.
“There were two options for me. Either I was buying a motorcycle or a bicycle. I chose the latter since it’s very cheap and environmentally friendly,” said 43-year-old Imran Ahmed, manager of a pharmaceutical company.
He added that despite his office providing a “pick-and-drop service,” he opted for the bicycle as it provided “much-needed exercise” as well.
The latest trend means the cash registers have not stopped ringing for bicycle suppliers, with some reporting a sudden boom in business.
“Bicycle sales have tripled in recent weeks. On average, I now sell 20 bicycles a day,” Human Kabir, owner of a bicycle store in the city’s Karwan Bazar area, told Arab News.
He added that while teenagers were his primary buyers, now people aged 25-60 were buying bicycles.

FASTFACT

Commuters make switch from cars to bicycles for health, social distancing reasons. 

“People need to spend $125 for a decent bicycle. But for a bicycle of high quality, the price goes up to $350. In the local market, we have a demand of 1.5 million bicycle pieces per year,” Kabir said.
Bicycle enthusiasts said they were pleased that the two-wheeler was getting its due recognition.
Fuad Ahsan Chowdhury, a volunteer of the BDCyclist group, said that the mindset has changed for what was formerly considered a poor man’s mode of transport.
“In this pandemic period, the bicycle has become a very popular mode of transportation as there are fewer vehicles on the streets. Usually, Dhaka streets are not safe for bicycle riders due to reckless drivers,” Chowdhury, who is also an IT consultant by profession, told Arab News.
“Bicycle sellers are now struggling to meet the increased demand. Many stores are running out of stocks as imports are also hampered due to the pandemic,” he added.
To meet the increased demand, a new bike-sharing service was launched in three areas of Dhaka — Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara — on Sunday.
Commuters can rent a bike and deposit it at fixed points after reaching their destinations, Chowdhury said, adding that the move would help promote bicycle use in the country.
“Many countries in the western world have already adopted bicycle riding, considering their environmental and health benefits. The pandemic has created an opportunity for many of us to adopt this good practice also,” he said.


Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan and Prince Charles lead tributes on 15th anniversary of London bombings

Updated 07 July 2020

Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan and Prince Charles lead tributes on 15th anniversary of London bombings

  • As well as 52 fatalities, more than 700 people were injured in the attacks

LONDON: UK prime minister Boris Johnson led tributes on Tuesday to 52 victims of the July 7 bombings to mark the 15th anniversary of the terror attack in London.

Four suicide bombers struck three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus at sites across the British capital —  on the Circle Line near Aldgate and Edgware Road, the Piccadilly Line near Russell Square and Tavistock Square — in coordinated strikes in 2005.

As well as the 52 fatalities, more than 700 people were injured in the attacks.

In a video statement Johnson said: “No one who was in London on July 7, 2005, will ever forget what they experienced that day.

“And for those directly affected by what happened; the loved ones of the 52 victims; the hundreds who suffered physical injury, mental trauma; the emergency services and Tube staff who rushed to help and witnessed truly horrific scenes; the passage of time will have done little to numb the pain they feel. 

“While all such anniversaries are difficult, I know this one will be especially hard. At times like this, people want to be able to come together, to be together, to remember and to reflect together. But the ongoing pandemic means that can’t happen as it normally would.

“When this city was attacked by those who sought to divide us, London responded with the simple truth: That whoever you are, wherever you are from, whatever the colour of your skin or the God you worship, if you choose to come to London and make your life here, then you are a Londoner,” he added.

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan also paid tribute to the victims, survivors and the emergency services who responded to the attacks.

“Today we honour the 52 people who lost their lives and more than 700 who were injured on July 7, 2005. Our capital will never forget the terrible events of that day, and my thoughts are with all those whose lives were changed forever,” he said.

“As we mark 15 years since the attack on our city, I want again to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of our emergency services and transport workers, who ran towards danger to save lives, on that awful day.

“The way that our city responded and stood united in the aftermath of the attack showed the world that our values of decency, tolerance and mutual respect will always overcome the hate of the terrorists.

“Today, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding these values. To those who wish to divide us and spread hatred, we send a clear message that they will never succeed, and that we are stronger together,” he added.

Heir to the British throne Prince Charles also sent a video message of remembrance, saying: “That such dreadfully barbaric atrocities should be perpetrated on the streets of our capital was an assault on us all, and on everything we stand for as a nation.”

“For the victims, and for you, their loved ones, the horror of that day was total. 52 people were cruelly robbed of their lives, nearly 800 people were injured, families were torn apart, and the most unimaginable pain and grief was visited upon so many of you.

He added: “I can only begin to imagine, therefore, how agonising it must be for you that you are unable to gather today. It seems so desperately cruel that the pandemic should have denied you this occasion to see and to hold each other, and to be together as you mourn and remember.”