Efforts to curb racing have failed to yield results

Motorbike racing, especially at night and on the weekends, on the six-lane Kowdiar-Vellayambalam road continues to pose a threat to the safety of road users and pedestrians.

Over 10 youths have been killed and many more injured in speeding and drunk driving-related accidents in the past three years on the high-security stretch, which houses the Raj Bhavan, the Kowdiar Palace, and official residences of three Ministers. Pedestrians have also been victims of the accidents on the stretch.

An official of Thiruvananthapuram Road Development Company Ltd. that manages the road said electric poles and plants on the central median were often damaged by racing enthusiasts.

The efforts of the city police and the Motor Vehicles Department over the years to curb the misuse of the stretch by the motorcyclists have failed to yield any results.

Vanishing act

Once the crackdown begins, the young two-wheeler riders with their new-generation vehicles just vanish, only to reappear when things have quietened down.

The installation of a camera near Kowdiar House, the official residence of the Minister for Rural Development, and the posting of traffic police personnel in civil dress to keep tabs on the motorbike racers has not had much effect.

The Kerala Road Safety Authority’s move to install automated cameras linked to speed sensors to take snapshots of the speeding motorcycles remains on paper.

The racing enthusiasts descend on the stretch when the traffic police personnel at the Kowdiar junction leave at 8 p.m. Bets are placed on the racers.

Recently, personnel of the Motor Vehicles Department who were conducting checks at night near Manmohan Bungalow to book drunk drivers and those without helmets impounded three motorcycles. The vehicles had been left behind by the riders on spotting the MVD personnel. As the cameras of the MVD installed at the Kowdiar junction are configured to capture the rear registration number plate of the vehicles, the racing enthusiasts skip the junction. They take a U-turn, and limit their ride from Manmohan Bungalow to the opening of the road towards Kowdiar Gardens.

Of late, the Kowdiar-Kuravankonam, Museum-PMG, and Asan Square-Airport stretch have also become a haven for racing enthusiasts. Consequently, there have been a number of accidents on these stretches, widened under the City Road Improvement Programme.

A senior traffic official told The Hindu that ‘organised’ racing had been brought to a halt in the capital.