I remember being envious of people who can ride bicycles. I could never learn, but then again I never even tried. I just thought I was one of the many who could not- until recently.
Just the other day, I was passing by Bijoy Sharani, comfortable in my car, not really paying attention to where I am, where I am going or anything, as a matter of fact. I suddenly come across a bunch of kids, my aged, storming past me, in bicycles. I watched them go by, ahead of my car. Their faces just seemed so carefree and happy. They weren’t as bored as I was, sitting in the car, they weren’t as lost as I was, and they knew where they were going, what they were doing. They seemed confident. They seemed content.
In recent times, Dhaka has been going through some changes. The changes have been both good and bad. But most of the good changes that have been taking place are because of the youth of the nation. Youngsters now have some important worries on their minds- how to be efficient, how to be helpful, how to save money, how to make a living. Long gone are the days when kids our age depended on their parents and tasted only the leisure of life.
“I have a car sitting at home. I could just ask my dad to drop me off to my university on his way to work. But I think that if I can do it on my own, what is the point of asking for help?” says Tousif Farhad, a student of Media and Communication in Independent University, Bangladesh. He adds, “I ride my bicycle to commute to my university. I go to Gulshan to meet my girlfriend on my bicycle, I go to work on my bicycle, and I pretty much take my bicycle everywhere. It is just a very efficient option. When people ask me why I travel on a bicycle, I ask them why they don’t!”
Now, how are bicycles an efficient option? Let’s analyse. What is the biggest problem that we face on the streets of Dhaka city? Traffic. Traffic makes us late to class almost every other day. No matter what form of transport we opt for- CNG, bus, car, rickshaw, we will be stuck in the middle of the road and curse at everyone else who is just trying to reach their destinations, like us. With a bicycle, traffic becomes the least of our worries. Being able to slip through places, bicycles don’t take much space and you can easily squeeze your way out of a congested situation. Along with that, it will cost you absolutely nothing. Your bike, your terms, your rules- you don’t have to depend on anyone else, you don’t have to pay anyone else, you don’t have to ask anyone else for anything. These terms give you the independence that you have always craved for.
Riding bicycles also come with a lot of health benefits. Sometimes due to packed schedules, we may not get the time to get our daily dose of exercise that we need to keep our bodies fit. Riding a bicycle makes up for that loss completely. Getting your adrenaline pumping, it increases your oxygen intake, works your muscles and gives you a way to a healthy heart. What else do you really need?
Seeing how I am becoming quite backdated here with not knowing how to ride a bicycle, I finally get the boost and am keen to learn. I finally get the urge to become as independent as those cyclists I saw on the street the other day. I’m signing up for lessons as soon as possible. Join me, won’t you?