Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crazy bike riders

Traffic conditions in Kathmandu are worsening everyday, that's for sure. It's so frustrating sometimes that no matter how hard you try, you just can't reach your destination on time. Traffic jams, road blockades, protests, roadside vendors, careless pedestrians and crazy bike riders - all at their best.

The reason I call most of the bike riders here crazy is their irresponsibleness and disregard for others. Just today, I witnessed a bunch of those. In less than a distance of 2 kilometres, I was stuck in two heavy jams and then rerouted due to a massive protest in one of the busiest junctions. The incident took place at the point where the second had occured.

Usually when a jam occurs, people are supposed to stick to their lane without obstructing vehicles coming from the opposite direction. That's what I was doing today. But a bike was trying to push through from my right, clearly off side and in somewhat uncontrolled manner. There were two boys on it. I stuck to my side and watched. They kept pushing though there was no way, only to hit the silencer of a bike that was ahead of me. The solitary rider of that bike then turned his head back and stared at the boys who had just hit his bike. They just giggled and paid no attention.

As the bike in front started moving forward, I followed and braked when he did. The speed was way below 10 kmph. Even at that speed, the same bike which was behind me now hit mine. When I looked back and asked, "Hey, what's this?" They giggled again. I waited for an apology, but they didn't even bother. A little later the rider shouted at me, "What's the use of blocking the way, can't you see there's a jam?" I couldn't tolerate their wayward conduct and decided not to keep my mouth shut. So I moved forward a few metres and when I found a suitable corner, stopped and waited for them to approach.

They were reluctant at first, but after about a minute later (as the vehicles from behind were blowing horn), they got into motion. Since I was at such a point that they couldn't escape, they approached and I signalled them to stop. They did and I said, "Don't you guys even know that if you make a mistake you're supposed to apologise first? Is the way you're riding okay? You just hit two bikes, don't you realise?" To my surprise, the rider answered, "Well, actually my bike's brakes are no good, that's why that happened." Before I could say anything, they sped up and and took a narrow street where I had no plans to go. I just stared sideways for a while and then headed towards my destination.

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