On Bangladesh’s Victory Day, 16 December, the group BDCycles once again organized a mass bike ride in Dhaka. Last year, there were about six hundred cyclists, an impressive scene in a city hostile to the bicycle. This year, there were reportedly eight thousand of us.
It isn’t easy to ride a bicycle with that many people, and at points the ride was more of a group walk—also a marvellous experience, as the energy of people replaced the usual deadening effect of a city drowned in cars.
The fact that cycling has taken off to such a degree in Dhaka, despite the lack of good conditions for it, cannot help but give me hope for a bright future. Already Dhaka has been acknowledged by Guinness for having the most rickshaws of any city. If we succeed at convincing planners and policymakers that cycling is the best way to reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and deadly traffic crashes, so that the conditions for cycling improve, then—given our huge population—we might take the record for bicycling as well.