A press conference was held last evening at the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka Auditorium to address the media on the need to share the roadways of Sri Lanka with Cyclists.
Present at the occasion was Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva, the President of the Sri Lanka Cycling Federation, Mr. Nishantha Piyasena, Asst. Secretary NOCSL, Mrs. Lalanthi Rajapakse, Co – founder, Pedal Pushers cyclists, Mr. Peter Bluck, Proprietor, Action Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., Mr. Ithquan Mahmud, Partner, Boralu Boyz, Mr. Ivan Brown, Founder, Colombo Mountain Bikers and Mr. Yasas Hewage, Founder, WROOM.
In the opening address made by Mrs. Rajapakse, she mentioned how cycling has developed as a hobby and as a means of recreation while, professional cycling has gained much exposure. This has been quite evident in the recent past where Sri Lanka managed to gain major honours at the South Asian Games which caught the attention of many in Sri Lanka and abroad. The Co-founder of Pedal pushers went on to say “with this development in interest it is important to make sure that the roads are safe for riders as most Sri Lankans have a rather negative perception on cyclists”.
Making the key note address, the President of the Sri Lanka Cycling Federation Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva said “Cycling is a must in our fast developing country. We have always loved this sport and supported it at a professional level. Now we believe the time has come for the sport to transform also into a recreational passion; one that will herald a new beginning for a sustainable development in our country and in creating a healthy and fit nation of Sri Lankans”. The Doctor also mentioned the importance of cycling as a means of exercise which could bring down the growing number of non-contagious diseases like Diabetes, heart conditions, hyper tension and so on.
Cycling is a great way to save money and energy, in an age where sustainability is a great concern and people look towards sustainable development, cycling is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint and make the world a better place. To do this however, the mind set of most Sri Lankans should change. Today most cyclists would be looked down upon and ridiculed for riding to work or school. It is a poor perception in the minds of a majority which is currently in a state of transformation. Another great concern is the number of road accidents which occur daily in Sri Lanka, most of these accidents involve cyclists. It is said that an average of 7 cyclists are killed or meet with an accident daily. This doesn’t create a favourable environment for parents to allow children on bikes, it is hazardous for adults to ride on roads. This is what the cycling groups and the main stakeholders of the Sri Lankan cycling community wish to change.
To create a safe environment for cyclists, motorists should get used to sharing the road with cyclists, this was a humble plea from the growing cycling community.