- Two-and-a-half-hour-long drive conducted in the morning
- Illegally parking, floating shops returned by noon
- Most people unaware of cycle lanes
- Counselling session for encroachers after 3-day drive
Encroachers returned to bicycle lanes on Manik Mia Avenue in the capital on Sunday noon, as soon as mobile court officials left the spot in the morning, after evicting illegal establishments, floating shops, and parked vehicles from the lanes.
The two-and-a-half-hour-long mobile court drive led by Dhaka North City Corporation Executive Magistrate Md Masud Hossain (to evict illegal encroachers from bicycle lanes) started at 11.00am.
Owners of two illegally parked vehicles were fined and more than 100 illegal floating shops were evicted during the drive. Besides, five were fined for not wearing masks in public place.
Cyclists and locals alleged that the return of illegally parked vehicles and floating shops - immediately after the eviction drive ended - raised questions as to why the eviction drive had been conducted in the first place.
Cyclists ply on the road risking their lives, they observed.
A spot visit indicated that most buses do not follow parking rules. Cars and motorcycles belonging to government officials are also seen parked on the cycle lanes, a major portion of which is also occupied by floating shops.
Admitting ignorance about cycle lanes, several bus drivers told The Business Standard, "We are not aware of the lanes."
They said that if cycle lanes are free, they occasionally stop their buses to pick up or drop off passengers.
Ice cream vendor Salim Hossain said since the lane is empty, a couple of shops should not be an issue. "Our small shop is adjacent to the road," he added.
Cyclist Nazmul Hossain said, "If we do not benefit from the cycle lanes, what's the point of having them in the first place? Illegal encroachers returned almost immediately after the drive ended. There are serious doubts about who is really benefitting from the cycle lanes. We are forced to drive our cycles on busy city thoroughfares at serious risk to our own lives."
Executive Magistrate Md Masud Hossain told The Business Standard, "We conducted the drive for two and a half hours from 11:15 am. The drivers of one microbus and one private car were fined a total of Tk 2,500 for illegal parking and more than a hundred floating shops were evicted. Five more people were fined a total of Tk 800 for not wearing masks."
Citing that many drivers are not familiar with cycle lanes, he said, "I have explained them to several car drivers. We will continue our drives from 11am for the next two days. We are trying to convince the public."
"On the final day of the campaign, we will sit down with small traders and floating shopkeepers of the area, and the regional councilor will attend the meeting."
He hoped that their drives would generate public awareness of the bicycle lanes.
DNCC segregated bicycle lanes on several major thoroughfares, including Manik Mia Avenue, to encourage city dwellers to ride bicycles. Agargaon has had a separate 9.36 km-long separate bicycle lane for a while now.