Monday, November 29, 1999

Orange to be the new black for bicycles

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New Delhi, June 17 -- Cyclists in the country are faced with an orange prospect. To avert fatal accidents, the Union ministry of surface transport has written to the ministry of industries to change the colour of bicycles from black to orange and obtained the latter's in-principle approval. The bright colour, according to the surface transport ministry, would ensure bicycles are clearly visible even at night. The code will apply to old as well as new bicycles. Both the ministries and officials of the International Road Federation, a non-profit service organisation, will meet on July 6 to work out the modalities before making it mandatory for cycle manufacturers to produce cycle frames and rear mudguards in luminous orange. The proposal also suggests that the rear mudguard of two-wheelers sport the bright orange colour. "If approved, we will bring a legislation to make it compulsory for all scooter and motorcycle manufacturers across the country to produce bikes that have rear markings in bright orange colour," a senior industries official said. Experts say two-wheeler drivers, particularly cyclists, are the most vulnerable to accidents after pedestrians. "Bicycle users have to share road space with motorised vehicles resulting in serious conflicts. Making them visible on roads through special colour markings is definitely a good idea," said K.K. Kapila, chairman of International Road Federation. Cycle manufactures, however, remain apprehensive. An official of Hero Cycles, who did not want to be named, said: "Over the past seven decades, the colour black is synonymous with bicycles. Sale of black bicycles is higher than coloured cycles. I do not know how people will respond. There should be a market research on this before the government makes it a rule." I.N. Sibal of Rajdhani Cycle Dealers' Association said: "Sale of bicycles has already gone down drastically. Our buyers are mostly children and people from lower classes. Children prefer bikes in all colours and may not like uniformity.""China and Taiwan have already done away with black bicycles. Bright coloured bikes have been introduced in European countries. But this has not helped reduce accidents."

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