Many things to many people

A motorcyclist seen from other people’s eyes

Many things to many people

A motorcyclist on the road is many things to many people, especially to those who are driving cars. To some, a motorcyclist is a careless lane changer; he is an obstacle in the smooth flow of traffic. But at the same time, he raises sympathies too being someone who does not have the resources to afford a car or a rickshaw and has to commute on his motorbike, sometimes with his whole family.

"They do not have even a faint idea how to ride a motorbike on a busy road and observe traffic rules," claims Muhammad Arsalan, who is a doctor by profession. "One reason why many of them land in a hospital is that they do not observe any traffic rules," he says. "If you want to commute with the whole family, a car or a rickshaw is the preferred choice."

But others have a different take, "Not everyone can afford a rickshaw or a car. They have no other option but to carry 2-3 children on the motorbike," says Rafique Bajwa, a motorbike dealer in township, Lahore. "A second-hand car costs at least Rs4 to 5 lakh while a new motorbike costs about Rs35 to 40 thousand and can be bought on installments," he explains.

"But does that mean they should not replace their broken rear light, install side mirrors, or keep in their lane?" asks Muzaffar Ali, a businessman in Lahore. "These scratches on all sides of my car are because of the rash motorcyclists," he claims.

But those who sympathize with the motorcyclists point to the absence of government’s role, "The more there are motorbikes on the roads the more the chances of an accident," says Nasir Yaqoob, a student. But he does not blame the people for buying motorcycles. "There should be a properly working public transport system in place. I’m pressurising my parents to get me a motorbike because a lot of my time is consumed as I have to take two busses to reach my college and then again on the way back."

"I only pray for the motorcyclists while they are on the roads because I have seen a couple of serious accidents along the canal road and elsewhere," says Asim Butt, a shopkeeper in his sixties. "It is not always that they violate traffic rules. I have seen these car walas driving rashly and hitting motorcyclists. All traffic rules should be observed but the traffic wardens have to make them follow these rules. They should challan bikers who do not properly maintain their motorbikes."

Many things to many people