Family And Cyclists Come Together To Demand Justice For Delhi Cyclist Subhendu Chatterjee And Safer Roads
Hundreds of cyclists from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Sunday converged near the Mysore Cafe in Thyagraj Marg where they were joined by the family and friends of Subhendu Banerjee, a cyclist who was mowed down by a BMW a week ago near the Mahipalpur flyover.
The 50-year-old who was a regular cyclist, and a resident of Gurugram and was riding towards Dhaula Kuan in Delhi when he was hit by the BMW that had a VIP registration plate and a sticker on it read, “President Finance Committee, Delhi Cantonment Board”.
Banerjee was one of the safest riders
The shocking death of Banerjee, who many described as the ‘safest rider’ they knew, sent a wave of disbelief and anger among cycling enthusiasts in NCR.
On Sunday, some 400 cyclists paid their tributes to him, with some even breaking down as they offered flowers in front of Banerjee’s photo.
“It is an extremely unfortunate and painful day. Me and Subhendu have travelled almost 5000-6000 kms together. He was one of the safest and experienced riders who also mentored many cyclists here,” Himanshu Khanna, a friend of Banerjee told Indiatimes.
Tomorrow it could be another cyclist
The tragic death of Banerjee also put the focus back on how our roads are unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.
A study by the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention (TRIP) Centre at IIT Delhi has found that at least 300 cyclists have lost their lives on the roads in the national capital alone.
Many cyclists who came to pay tributes to Banerjee also recalled other friends and acquaintances who were killed during cycling.
Others spoke about their own harrowing experiences.
“I was also hit once on the Noida Expressway. By God’s grace I am alive. But that doesn’t mean that we are safe. We definitely need cycling lanes and also tell the high speed traffic to respect the people who are on the side lanes. Just try to ensure that we are safe together,” Mona, another cyclist said.
“Whatever happened, was a big loss to the cycling community. And it could happen to anyone of us tomorrow. We want to feel safe when we are on the road. I feel that we need stricter laws and increased fines for overspeeding,” another cyclist Reena Katyal, added.
“I don’t know how many more people should die before the government take this seriously. It is very dangerous to be on the road. We are on the roads because we want to be healthy,” another cyclist said.
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Cyclists want better safety, dedicated lanes
The cycling community was unanimous in expressing their frustration over not having dedicated cycling lanes, which they said will encourage more people to ride cycles for their daily commute.
“We have been cycling for nearly 10 years now. We wanted to make cycling a way of life, keeping in mind the environment. But that is easier said than done in a city like Delhi. It is important to create awareness among the public and drivers about safety of cyclists. There should be proper training for drivers to avoid such accidents in the future,” Paramjeet Singh, one of the founders of Turbanators-the pedalers, told Indiatimes.
Following the accident on Sunday, a case was registered under sections 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way) and 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code was registered and the offending vehicle has been seized.
The owner of the car, identified as Sunil, a resident of Punjabi Bagh, denied he was not inside the vehicle during the accident.
Family demand justice
The devastated family of Banerjee is demanding justice and also appealed to people to come forward if they have any evidence to identify the real culprit.
“My husband was the victim of reckless driving on the highway. He had been cycling for years and was the safest rider. We are looking for justice. We need help from everyone to put the man who did this behind the bars. Today it was my husband, tomorrow, it can be the husband, brother or father of someone else,” Banerjee’s wife said as she broke down.
“He was the most amazing person I had known in my life. I have seen him cycling for around 15 years. He was very very safe. He was also the one who taught me cycling. It is very hard to look at life without him. I want justice for my father,” Kavya, the daughter of Banerjee said.
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