India’s love affair with two-wheelers is a story that has seen us pass China as the world’s largest market for motorcycles and scooters. In cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, riding a two-wheeler is sometimes the fastest way to commute. These days, it is not unusual to find a small moped or a bike in even the remotest villages being used to traverse the rough and tumble gravel roads. However, the increase in numbers hasn’t resulted in better road manners, with many Indians willing to cut corners to either reach someplace faster or to transport the entire joint family to the market and back. Here are a few of those maddening characteristics of Indian motorcycle and scooter riders that make you worry for the safety of everyone on the road.
Riding on the wrong side of the road
In a bid to get to a place faster or to avoid a busy intersection or sometimes just because they’re bored, you’ll find at least one rider come haring down the wrong way on many a road in India, be it a crowded city street or the open highway. If you encounter such a rider, please avoid them at all costs.
Jumping the divider
Just because you can push your bike or scooter over a divider and save a few minutes of commuting, doesn’t mean you actually have to do it. It is a whole lot safer for both the people on the scooter/bike and everyone else moving past if they can avoid this rather deadly habit. These riders can be usually found prowling jumping about in cities, though open highways are not bereft of them.
You’ll find these Indian riders in almost every nook and cranny of our public roads. These ‘riders’ will cut across from one lane to another in a bid to get further ahead on the road, whether it be jammed or moving at a high pace. Weaving across lanes can lead to people tumbling off their bikes if they lose their balance, which can be fatal for anyone involved. Avoid these riders at all costs.
Riding on footpaths
If the road ahead is jammed and the footpath on either side looks to be unused, you will see riders in India, hopping onto the path meant for pedestrian or for drainage to avoid what could be a short wait. These riders not only pose a safety issue for pedestrians but are also the bane for other motorists when they rejoin the road ahead and make the jams go from bad to worse.
OVRM? What OVRM?
Many riders remove the rear-view mirrors off their bikes and scooters which apparently makes them look ‘cooler’ in their eyes. Without anything to warn them of oncoming traffic from behind when attempting a turn, these image-conscious riders are a danger to everyone else on the road.
Do you Know I do all my stunts myself
These riders are the worst sort of daredevils you ever want to encounter. With no regards to safety (their own and that of everyone else on the roads), these hooligans on two wheels try every trick they’ve seen or learnt from another raucous rider on public roads. Not only do they cause a ruckus and pose a danger to everyone on the road, but they also negatively influence younger people who will want to get a motorcycle or scooter sometime in the future.
Group Riding Chatterboxes
Riding in a group with your friends or with fellow riding enthusiasts is always a brilliant way to send a weekend or more. However, when a big riding group decides to ride at a slow speed so as they converse with everyone else in the group, then they become a nuisance for every other rider or driver on the road. A single rider making a slight error can lead to a catastrophic accident and other motorists should avoid these large packs of riders for their own safety.
Texting & calling while riding
With smartphones and regular dumb phones in the hands of every other person on the planet, seeing a person talking or texting while riding is becoming an unfortunately common sight on Indian roads. These distracted riders are very likely to tumble or weave erratically through traffic with one hand attached to the phone and only the other one controlling the bike/scooter. Beware of such riders and stay clear.
Travelling with over two people on a scooter or motorcycle is a punishable offence under the Indian penal code. However, with Indian families not shrinking in size anytime soon, bikes with three riders sitting on them can be seen across the nation. And it’s not just multiple people on a bike that’s an issue. People overload their bikes with goods so as to avoid multiple trips and these overloaded two-wheelers are at a greater risk of causing an accident or tumbling over.
Helmet or Handbag? Using a helmet to avoid the cops
Another common scene, especially in cities and towns, are riders with a helmet strapped around their arms. These riders wear their helmets like a handbag only plopping them on their heads whenever the cops are checking for helmetless riders. This reflex action on seeing the police can sometimes lead to these riders losing their balance as they try to fit the helmet on their heads.