AUTHORITIES IN the Eastern Province recently announced a ban on bicycles from main roads.
The reason put forward was that bicycles are the main cause of road accidents in the province and they sought to nip the problem in the bud. But are bicycles the reason behind the road accidents?
Bicycles are the main source of transport in rural areas and play an integral part in social economic activities. To some, it is a status symbol, to others, a means of gainful living.
By blaming bicycles for the high number of accidents and consequently banning them, authorities in the Eastern Province risk creating a problem which can be very detrimental to the livelihoods of the Rwandan people residing and working in these areas.
Most markets, hospitals and schools are situated near main roads or accessed using main roads and with most rural dwellers relying on bicycles for transportation, banning them off main roads may cause more harm than good.
Most road accidents are caused by carelessness of road users, cyclists inclusive. However, when thinking about the consequences of the ban, it is imperative that other options are considered.
Responsible use of roads, especially busy highways, strict monitoring by Traffic Police, erecting traffic control measures such as speed bumps in busy commercial centres, as well as sufficient road signs is where more efforts should be put.
For now, raising awareness on traffic rules and general road safety practices should be the priority.
And, moving forward, planners should provide bicycle lanes to cater for the cyclists after. After all cycling is more healthy and in line with the country’s environmental policy.