Unaware of rules, Shimla Police harassing cyclists instead of promoting cycling culture

Interestingly, Shimla Police is also not aware of any such rule that prohibits cycling on restricted and sealed roads. When traffic control room was asked about it, the staff was unable to provide a clear answer and expressed doubts about it.

SHIMLA – Under the Comprehensive Mobility Plant (CMP) worth Rs 4701.42 crore, Shimla Municipal Corporation and HP Government had agreed on promoting cycling on Shimla roads, especially on the roads where motor vehicles are prohibited. Previous SP Shimla, Abhishek Dular is also a cycling enthusiast and often used a bicycle for commuting. The Deputy Mayor of Shimla, Tikender Panwar, can also be seen cycling from his home to office. Following their examples, some citizens, especially youth, are now using cycles for their daily commuting.

However, Shimla SP DW Negi seems to have disliked the idea and is creating his own set of rules for cycling. On the evening of November 9, a youth, who was riding his cycle on Chotta Shimla to Marina road, was stopped by a Shimla police officer. The youth was told that it’s a rule that no citizen can ride a cycle on restricted and sealed roads. When the youth told him that he has been using cycle from past one year on the same road to commute from his home in Shoghi to office in Kasumpti daily and no policemen ever stopped, informed or warned him regarding any such rule.

The officer didn’t like it when the youth asked for information regarding this rule, the infuriated officer ordered policemen to take the youth and his bicycle to police station. His bicycle was confiscated for a night and the youth was sent to Chotta Shimla Police station. Youth was not given any reason for confiscation; neither was he given any official receipt as proof of it.

All that the S.H.O Chotta Shimla told the youth was that he was ordered to confiscate the cycle for one night.
HW talked to the victim who recalled the whole incident, however, avoided talking about it on camera. While, the youth didn’t file any official complaint against it, the issue was raised by the ICE (Initiative for Cycling Enthusiast) community of Shimla and Tikender Panwar.

A member of the cycling community condemned such irresponsible behavior by Shimla Police and expressed his fear that such incidents will discourage citizen from using cycles.

Interestingly, Shimla Police is also not aware of any such rule that prohibits cycling on restricted and sealed roads. When traffic control room was asked about it, the staff was unable to provide a clear answer and expressed doubts about it.

When HW asked the DSP (traffic police) Amit Thakur to throw light on any such provision that prohibits cycling on sealed and restricted roads, he replied that there is no such rule. He also referred to “THE SHIMLA ROAD USERS AND PEDESTRIANS (PUBLIC SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE) ACT, 2007 for confirmation. The Act does not mention any prohibition regarding the use of cycles on such roads and considers only motor-vehicles.

Moreover, Shimla Police or Shimla MC or any other authority never released any notification regarding cycling rules in Shimla. So, how could police stop a citizen from cycling and confiscate bike without telling the owner his offense.

It’s a highly condemnable act to harass a citizen on the name of rules that actually do not exist.

Tikender Panwar reacted to this news and called it a ridiculous action on the part of the Shimla Police. He also wrote a letter to the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh regarding the unfortunate incident. In his letter, Tikender Panwar said,

This also goes against the basic spirit of this town where you too have been instrumental in guiding the citizens with the slogan of “PAIDAL NAHIN TO PEDAL SAHI” which means if you cannot walk then you should pedal in the town.

Referring to the CMP approved by the government,he added,

Shimla MC and the state government conjointly have passed the city comprehensive mobility plan (CMP) which focuses on non motorised mode of transport and cycle being the foremost one.

In May 2015, Himachal Pradesh Government and Shimla Municipal Corporation had conjointly approved the first phase of Comprehensive City Mobility Plant (CMP) in order to increase mobility to reach major areas in Shimla. The plan included setting up rope-ways, escalators, lifts and other non-motorized transportation mediums to reduce traffic and to cut environmental pollution. Promotion of cycling culture is a major part of this plan.

In September, Shimla MC had announced construction of cycle stands on identified sites such as between CTO and Sanjauli besides Indira Gandhi Sport Complex and Chotta Shimla. Shimla Deputy Mayor had held a meeting with various stakeholders, along with DSP (traffic) Amit Thakur to come out with means to promote cycling in Shimla.

In Septmber, DW Negi, SP Shimla Police had announced that policemen in Shimla were provided with top gear cycles (costing 1.5 lakh) for patrolling in the central area of the town where movement of automobile vehicles is forbidden. DW Negi had said,

The petrol police have to trek considerable distance to reach the crime spot in these locations but it can be reduced considerably by cycling. Cycling is environmental friendly and can penetrate into areas where vehicles cannot go and as such it would help the patrolling parties to work efficiently and effectively. Cycles have been purchased and we are buying helmets for the safety of policemen riding the bicycle. The trial is already underway and the pilot project, which would be launched in other areas if successful, would be launched in the next two days.

Earlier, in June, a Shimla-based group ‘Initiative for Cycle Enthusiasts (ICE) held a cycling rally to promote cycling and cleaner environment in Himachal Pradesh.

All developed nation have taken aggressive initiatives to promote zero-emission transportation such as electric cycles and cycling. The governments have formed set of rules specifically defined for cyclists. Unfortunately, the capital city of Himachal still has no clue about it.

In the above mentioned case, the youth was unable to figure out which rule he actually violated or whether he even violated any rule or not. The egoistic behavior of police officials and lack of proper knowledge regarding rules & regulation have resulted in the harassment of a citizen, who was, indeed, helping keep Shimla clean and cut traffic by choosing cycle over motor-vehicle.

It’s not the first time that Shimla Police was caught harassing common people. We had posted images from student protest at HP university and outside Vidhan Sabha in which policemen had brutalized protesters. Policemen were caught in CCTV installed in a Dhalli hotel where hotel workers were beaten over a disposable cup. In another instance, policemen thrashed tourists publicly despite their own fault. Cops were seen riding duty bikes without helmets. One of the cops had dragged out HRTC driver from moving bus at Tutu Chowk and risked lives of people because he had not stopped the bus for the cop as it was overloaded. Now,  we have ego-issues due to which police department is not only leaving a bad impression on public, but also damaging progressive plans of Shimla MC.


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