The Karnataka government has banned pillion riding on two-wheelers with engine capacities below 100cc to curb the accidents. The transport department has also banned future registration of two-wheelers below 100cc if they have seats for pillion riders. Karnataka High Court had passed the order in June 2015 while awarding compensation to Hemant, a minor crippled for life in a road accident in Mysore in 2009 while riding pillion on a two-wheeler.
The notification, while it only mentions which vehicles are banned, does not specify why. It also lists out the engine capacities of the bikes that are banned, of which barring one, all of them fall short of the 100cc mark by anything from 0.3 to 2.3 cubic centimetre. Hero Motocop's Splendor and Passion bikes, TVS Motors' Scooty Pep plus scooter and XL 100 moped are among the vehicles that will be affected by the ban.
The worst to be affected by this decision is the common man. Not everyone can afford a bike; some may choose to go for cheaper variants, which may have smaller engines. With this ruling in place, many of them will have to look for alternative means of transport.
Karnataka’s move to ban pillion riders on sub-100cc two-wheelers flies in the face of safety logic. There is no evidence to suggest that riders in this category are more vulnerable to road deaths than their counterparts on more powerful bikes and scooters. The implicit assumption that cyclists are safer than pillion riders of mopeds, entry-level bikes and mini-scooters is also bereft of any empirical supporting evidence. When bad roads and potholes are the bigger villains of the piece, how this proposed ban on pillion riding will help is completely inexplicable.