Unveiling the Realities of Ride-Hailing Apps: Safety on 2 Wheels

Insights into the Safety Challenges and Human Experiences of App-Based Bike Rides.

Ola, Uber, and Rapido stand out as prominent ride-hailing apps in India. Today, a significant portion of the population prefers utilizing these services for local transportation over driving their own vehicles, especially in cities like Mumbai and Bangalore. It’s common to see people opting for a ride-hailing service rather than dealing with the hassles of parking and multitasking while driving. While hiring a car through these apps seems like a safe and convenient option, the same cannot always be said for booking a bike ride. Let’s analyze this based on some real-life experiences.

During a recent trip to Delhi, I decided to hire a bike. Within a few minutes, a young man in his twenties arrived on an old splendor bike, carrying a bag on his back. I provided him with the OTP, and he handed me a dusty plastic cap-like helmet from his bag. The helmet was in very poor condition, with one side broken. I asked him if he had another helmet, but he said no. I tied a handkerchief around my head and reluctantly wore the helmet. As we started the ride, I noticed that the rider struggled with gear shifting, often stalling at traffic lights. Despite driving slowly, he seemed unfamiliar with basic driving rules. Throughout the ride, I prayed silently to reach my destination safely. In the end, I paid him a tip to uplift his spirits a bit.

In another instance, while heading from Dwarka to Hari Nagar, I faced a similar predicament.. It was 9:30 PM, and after waiting for a cab for a long time, I decided to ride a bike again. This time, a very young person, around 19 or 20 years old, arrived with an electric scooter. Although the scooter was new, the driver wasn’t wearing a helmet himself. When I asked for a helmet, he gave me one from under the seat, again in poor condition. He smiled nervously and said, “kuch nahi hota tension mat lo” (Nothing will happen, do no take tension). Feeling pressed for time, I reluctantly got on the back. As he started driving, I noticed he was driving recklessly, and he was heavily drunk. I calmly asked him to slow down, which he did momentarily. During our conversation, he revealed that he had lost his father three years ago and now he is responsible for the survival of his entire family. Trying to lighten the mood, I offered to buy him food, but he declined. Throughout the ride, I prayed silently for safety. In the end, I paid him a tip and advised him to wear a helmet and go back to his home instead of taking more rides.

In a third incident, I decided to take a longer ride from Old Delhi to West Delhi. This time, I got a rider a native of Kanpur, UP, a 24-year-old guy studying in some ITI college in Delhi. Once again, I was given a plastic helmet, which I wore with my handkerchief underneath. Traffic was heavy due to office hours, and soon after starting the ride, I noticed that the rider struggled with gear shifts and maintained a constant grip on the clutch, even on open roads. Concerned, I asked him how long he had been driving, to which he replied, “Almost seven years.” It was quite Shocking for me, I explained some basic driving rules including operation of clutch and brakes, which he eagerly listened to. He said to me, “Nobody told him these things before”. He thanked me at the end of the ride.

During a late-night journey from Gurugram to Dwarka, the driver was a 35-year-old man, the first time I had someone above 25. Again, I was given a dusty non-certified helmet. The ride started on the highway, but the driver maintained a speed of 40-45 km/h in the extreme right lane. I requested him to drive on the left lane for safety. His constant grip on the clutch throughout the journey raised concerns about his driving skills. Despite my concerns, I decided not to distract him. Upon reaching my destination, I felt relieved and advised him to drive cautiously on highways, especially at night.

These incidents highlight a common trend: a lack of proper driving training and adherence to road safety norms among bike rental riders. This raises questions about the hiring process of companies like Uber, Ola, and Rapido. Do they conduct proper driving tests before appointing a rider? These ride-hailing apps prioritize profit over the safety of their passengers and drivers too. Providing basic road safety training and good helmets should be a responsibility for these companies to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Hello readers, If you have experienced anything similar, do share in the comments box below.


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