One-wheeling: passport to death

I was sitting outside a local tea shop with friends when a teenaged biker crashed on to the pavement in a pool of blood. He is one of many dare-devils who fail to realize how dangerous one-wheeling can be

Ghulam Muhammad July 20, 2010
I was sitting outside a local tea shop with my friends, adjacent to Sanda Road when a bike came crashing into the footpath near us. A young boy aged around 16-18 lay on the pavement in a pool of blood.

The young boy had been riding his motorbike on the back-wheel through the city's busiest road at high speeds. Sadly, he was unable to control his bike. This was the first time I encountered such a brutal accident and I pray to Allah that it may be the last.

Motorcyclists like this guy can be found displaying their dangerous stunts on busy roads of Pakistan without taking even basic precautionary measures like wearing a helmet. These bikers run through the streets on occasions like the eve of Independence Day, New Year, Eid, Shab-e-Baraat and many others. We now see the same bikers carrying out their stunts in different rallies and protests. We regularly read and hear news about accidents caused by these one-wheelers. Not only do they put their own life in danger, they endanger those of others as well. The government needs to enforce strict laws to eliminate this dangerous activity.

The practice of one-wheeling has been in operation for the last 15-18 years in Lahore and we can now find it in other cities and towns of Pakistan. Recent years have seen an alarming rise in this dangerous trend among the youth in Pakistan. These dare devils are often seen driving their bikes during the day and night on the back wheel, juggling while doing so and performing other dangerous stunts like lying flat on the seat of a moving bike, driving inversely and doing other dangerous tricks while their girlfriends ride with them. Most of these bikes run without silencers and the bikers make sure to give their bikes a complete make-over so that they have dazzling headlights, awkward designs without mudguards and fuel tanks adorned in different colours.

Some of these youngsters are also those involved in criminal activities, harassment and mobile snatching and other theft. They dodge traffic policemen and violate traffic laws. A special operation has now been launched against one-wheelers and many cases have been registered.

Among the many causes fuelling this dangerous trend is the practice of people betting on their favourite riders. In Pakistan people face a lack of recreational activities. We lack state-owned parks and opportunities for healthy sports. And then militancy and terrorism reduce any opportunities for healthy entertainment in the country. In these circumstances, people resort to dangerous activities like one-wheeling as a form of entertainment.

One Wheeling as sport

One wheeling is one of the unusual sports in the developed world, however never is it practiced the way it is here on busy roads and streets. In the USA, UK, Japan and other Western countries, one-wheeling is considered a sport in the form of unicycling, bicycling, tricycling, and motor biking. Unicycling is a sport taught in Japanese schools. In developed countries, joy riders are recognised by international federations. Daring stunts can be witnessed on sports channels where joy riders take part in international events and enjoy the speed and stunts they perform in a healthy and relatively safer environment.

The government should set up safe race tracks for riders and depute special trainers where riders can take part in biking activities in a healthy and safe environment.
Ghulam Muhammad A Sargodha based sub-editor at Express News
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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