Cyclists face a harrowing time on roads as motorists have scant respect for them, said experts who feel that India‘s cycling coach Ruma Chatterjee’s death in a road accident on the Noida Expressway was due to the driver’s negligence.
“There is no respect for cyclists on the road. People don’t have any traffic sense. The attitude has to change,” said Chayan Choudhury, ex-Indian cycling coach.
“It is sad (Chatterjee’s death) but accidents are part of this game. Anything can happen any time,” he said.
He added that unlike in the west, people in India hardly care for cyclists.
Choudhary and Chatterjee were coaches of the Indian cycling team for the Commonwealth Games 2010.
“It was completely the driver’s fault. She (Chatterjee) was riding behind the cyclists’ group on the extreme left of the road. The car hit her from behind. It was the driver’s fault,” V.N. Singh, assistant secretary of the Cycling Federation of India (CFI), said.
“We have been using that road for the past two years for training. There is so much of traffic on Delhi‘s roads and we thought that the expressway was perfect for early morning training. We have coaches looking after groups of cyclists,” he added.
The 51-year-old was hit by a speeding vehicle around 6.30 a.m. Tuesday while she was training with junior cyclists. The car driver reportedly fled from the spot after the accident.
She was then taken to the nearby Kailash Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. The cycling team’s assistant coach, Bhim Singh Dhaiya, has lodged a complaint with police.
Mediaperson Juhi Chaudhary, who started cycling a few years ago, admitted that her attitude towards cyclists changed only when she took up cycling.
“I am a disciplined driver now after experiencing how annoying and life-threatening it can be to ride a cycle on a road where everyone is in a hurry. Now I ensure that if I see a cyclist, I let him pass,” she said.
“I used to take cyclists for granted. I don’t do that anymore,” she added.
Chatterjee, a spinster, is survived by her 77-year-old mother and five sisters.