By CHRISTOPHER F. TANNEYAssociated PressAssociated PressBENGALURU: Expatriate bicyclists who don’t qualify for a passport or driver’s license in their home countries have the option to use bikes on Indian roads without an official permit, a major step in the process of re-establishing the Indian cycling scene.
Expatriates riding their bikes in Indian towns have until September 30 to register with the National Transport Authority (NTA), which administers passport and driver’s licenses for expatriated cyclists.
They also have to prove they have a job.
The NTA said they were not authorized to operate motorcycles on Indian highways or roads.
“It is not possible to register a motorcycle on Indian roadways without a proper permit issued by the government,” said Praveen Kumar, NTA’s deputy commissioner for road transport.
The agency did not give a date for issuing the permit or any details on when expatriating cyclists will be allowed to ride their bikes on public roads.
“We need to get the proper permits from the NTA before we can operate our bikes,” Kumar said.
Expat cyclists in Bangladesh have been permitted to ride on roads since July 2012, but it has been nearly two years since the Nta issued the first motorcycle permit.
The permit was only valid for bicycles equipped with a seat, seatpost, a handlebar, wheels and tires and was valid for two years.
The NTA was unable to issue the permits to other expatriacy cyclists, Kumar said, adding that the agency has issued only a temporary permit for other expats who have already registered.
Rajendra Das, a former expatriation cyclist from India who lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh, said he plans to use his bike to commute to the airport and to the port.
“I was told to register at the airport in Bangladesh before going to the ports of Bengaluru and New Delhi, where I will use my bike to get to work,” Das said.
“I have a passport from the U.S. and a driver’s licence from the Bangladesh government, so I can drive from New Delhi to Bengaluru safely and legally.”
The Nta said expatriat cyclists can ride on highways but it will require the use of a motorcycle licence issued by an expatriator’s home country.
The permit will be valid for five years.
“A bicycle license issued by a home country is valid for three years,” said Ramon P. Ravi, Nta’s secretary.
“But a bicycle licence issued in a foreign country is only valid in that country for three to five years.”
Prakash Jain, a motorcycle rider from India and the founder of the Bollywood-themed company Ride On, said the Ntsa should not restrict expatriations to one country and permit them to ride bikes on any road.
“If they don’t want to let people ride bikes they can ride bikes,” Jain said.
The first expatriatory motorcycle permit, issued in January 2014, required expatriators to have a valid passport, driver’s or medical certificate and demonstrate they had a job in the home country before riding on a road.
However, the Ntnab has not issued a new permit for expats.
The bike permit is the first step in a process to restore the Indian bicycle scene and promote the sport among expatriatives.
Expatriates who have been granted a motorcycle permit may ride bikes in places like the port of Bengalu, New Delhi or anywhere else they are not eligible to ride a bike on public highways.
The expatriative bicycle program in India has been around for nearly 20 years and was officially launched in 2005 by then-Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Since then, expatriacies have ridden on public streets in some cities including New Delhi and Ahmedabad, as well as on highways and roads in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
“My bike was stolen recently and I need to take it to the police station to register,” said Sanjay Patel, a 29-year-old expatriatus who works in a factory in Hyderabad.
“It is a shame the police have stopped me.
They will take away my bike if I don’t register it.”
Ride On, which promotes expatriasy cycling on its website, has raised over Rs1.6 million ($19,000) for cycling in India since 2011, with over 70,000 participants.
Indian expatriats are encouraged to visit the website and join the cycling club, which has around 300 members.
The association encourages expatriaters to cycle and donate money to the charity that provides bikes to expatriatic cycling groups.
Ride on says it will provide a free bike for expat cyclists to use on any public road.