To cycle or not to cycle
Driving a car or maneuvering any vehicle, for that matter, in our country has always been a rather male-dominated activity. Sure, a lot of women are seen on the streets behind the wheels or on the wheels but, it does not come without unwanted attention and at times incidents.
While a lot of men nowadays are opting to buy motorbikes or bicycles to make their commute through the city easier given the tiring traffic jams, the majority of women and girls refrain from doing so due to various reasons ranging from security concerns to social norms.
Since we live in a society where fingers are pointed at the slightest deviation from the established norms, women on two-wheelers are not spared similar repercussions on the streets. Women driving cars face a lot of subtle harassment from other drivers, especially rickshawpullers and auto-rickhshaw drivers. Even if the female driver is driving alright and has not come into any trouble with another vehicle, she is not immune to being talked about loudly among other drivers, pointed at and smirked at. Women on two-wheelers are more vulnerable and exposed to this because of the fact that the vehicle they are driving is an open one unlike a closed car. Added to this is the fact that if a woman wears western clothes for the ease of riding a scooter or bicycle this attitude among pedestrians, fellow drivers and at times commuters increase manifold. It is not limited to verbal taunts; groping is considered that much easier for the perverts out on the roads, because it is very easy to extend one's hand while walking down the street, as a woman pedals close-by.
Moreover, if, while riding a scooter or bicycle, the woman somehow has an accident, by-standers usually enjoy blaming the woman for riding on the streets in the first place irrespective of whose fault the accident was. Tied to that is the fact of safety from muggers. While both males and females may fall prey to muggers, speeding away in a car or a bike, women on two-wheelers are more likely to be victims. This is because women usually carry a purse which, while riding a scooter, they hang across their torso and they can easily be pulled from the side. The problem with this is not limited to the loss of money and personal possessions; the graver problem is that when the bags are tugged at it may cause the woman to fall off her vehicle resulting in serious injuries and fatal accidents.
Needless to say, it is very rare to see many women out there on the streets using an independent, cheap and healthy alternative for transport because of the afflictions that tag along with the choice. In spite of that, some women nowadays are taking it up as a challenge in order to try and change the perception that persists. Here is to hoping that they succeed and we see more women out there on the roads.