• Cops start fining cyclists on three thoroughfares
    Times of India, 04 December 2020
  • Kolkata: Hours after police decided not to extend the relaxed bicycle policy after almost six months, a few traffic guards began challaning cyclists using roads where bicycles are banned. Police sources said that individual guards were “forced to act” and fine cyclists Rs 100 for deviating from set roads and using some central Kolkata business district thoroughfares, like Park Street and Camac Street, in the past few days to cut short their travelling time. A similar drive was held on EM Bypass.

    “We have often stopped cyclists on these roads and counselled them. But we had marked out the serial violators against whom we finally acted in the past 48 hours,” said a senior officer from the south traffic guard.

    “We had earmarked the routes available for cyclists going towards Sector V from Park Circus multiple times. But there were a few violators who insisted on taking Bypass. Not only is it a security hazard, but it is also a major threat to motorists. We had to send a signal,” said an officer, adding that unlike previous occasions, no cycles were seized in the process.

    The police action is limited to a few specific guards “where the problem is acute”. “We have got no clear orders from Lalbazar. We have merely been asked to ensure no one is obstructing the flow of traffic or creating a safety issue,” explained an officer.

    Meanwhile, Lalbazar has stated it will not extend the relaxations offered to cyclists since the “demand for it, as well as the ground situation, is far removed from the past few months” after the resumption of Metro and local trains. “If the demand has decreased, there is little point in keeping it running for a few,” said an officer. “With Majerhat bridge being restored, a big section of suburban cyclists will be going back to using buses to commute within south Kolkata,” another officer said.

    “We are not going to extend the notification,” said DC (Traffic) Rupesh Kumar.

    Talking to TOI, top officers insisted that most cyclists who have stopped using the two-wheelers hail from Howrah, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas rather than the city proper. “With train services normalizing, and Metro services peaking, we had to withdraw the relaxation. Given that winter is around — usually the time when maximum accidents get recorded — we thought this was the time to have a rethink,” said an officer.

    “Many people are being forced to use cycles and we must give them time to adapt to the rules. For now, we want to promote good cycling practices and want to reward those who follow the rules. During each counselling session on the roads, we ask them to wear fluorescent clothes and helmets. The new-age cyclists are following these basic rules and can act as examples,” said a Lalbazar officer.

    The cops have decided on a few provisions under which cyclists can be penalized. “Since Motor Vehicles Act will not be applicable, we will use the Kolkata Police Act, under which cycles of errant riders might be confiscated,” an officer said. Police also said vans and carts would not be included in the “relaxations” provided to cyclists.
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