Brave Cyclists Take Part In Smog Awareness Campaign In Lahore
Cyclists in Pakistan’s suffocating Lahore face hazardous pollution levels, driver abuse, and social stigma as part of a campaign to get people to abandon their cars.
Cyclists participate in a pollution and smog awareness campaign on Sunday, as they ride down a street towards the Wagah border near Lahore, Pakistan. Cyclists in Pakistan’s suffocating Lahore face hazardous pollution levels, driver abuse, and social stigma as part of a campaign to get people to abandon their cars.
Every week, around 100 adults and children, some wearing masks or scarves wrapped around their mouths and noses, hop on their bikes and ride around the city of more than 11 million people.
“We are very concerned about the smog because there are so many cars now and the population has grown so much,” said Afia Khan, who joined the initiative in August. However, encouraging people to use the environmentally friendly mode of transportation is difficult, and the group frequently requires a police escort to keep them safe in a city that lacks dedicated bicycle lanes.
Cyclists are “at the mercy of these ruthless motorbikes, chingchies (auto rickshaws), and cars,” according to Rana Sohail, the head of Clean Pakistan Green Pakistan, which launched the initiative with Critical Mass Lahore.
Cycles-Lahore-pollution Cyclists participate in a pollution and smog awareness campaign as they ride along a street near Lahore’s Wagah border. “The government needs to create a more cycling-friendly infrastructure,” said Humayun Qureshi, who attended the latest event on Sunday with his wife and two daughters.
In deeply conservative Pakistan, there is also a widespread belief that sport, including cycling, is inappropriate for women, who risk harassment from men.
“It can be difficult to go biking alone as a woman because of the harassment you’ll face,” Zarwa Jamal, a student who was cycling with her entire family, told. “It’s truly wonderful to be able to go with the group because I know I’ll be safe.”
Lahore is consistently ranked as one of the most polluted large cities in the world, with industrial pollutants, smoke from seasonal crop burn-off, vehicle fumes, and colder winter temperatures all contributing to toxic smog.
Due to high levels of air pollution, authorities were forced to close schools on Fridays and Saturdays, in addition to the usual Sunday break, in November.
Understanding of the terrible health effects of smog has grown in recent years, putting pressure on authorities to devise solutions to the problem.
“The point of reaching actual awareness is still far away, but hopefully we will gradually achieve it,” cyclist Tanzeel ur Rehman said.