Thursday, February 9

In conversation with Kalyanaraman Venkatesan- a biker and social activist

If you spot a Royal Enfield motorcycle in Pune with a board stating “ALWAYS GIVE WAY TO AMBULANCE. EMPATHIZE, SOMEDAY IT COULD BE YOU”, then it is of Kalyanaraman Venkatesan. TnW correspondent Ajith had a quick chat with Kalyan (Kalyanaraman Venkatesan) to know on why such a board on his motorcycle. Is it just a message or more than that?

About Kalyan

  • Kalyan is an active member of Street Sense, an organization started by bikers in association with RTO, Pune with aim of creating awareness of Road Safety and Helmet Safety.
  • Volunteer with The Robin Hood Army that works to get surplus food from restaurants across to the less fortunate.
  • Worked in getting and delivering the relief funds and goods during Nepal earthquake.
  • Provided medical assistance to the needy during Chennai floods.
  • Member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
  • Associated with various orphanages and child homes.

Q) Reason for placing such a board on your motorcycle?
A) My cousin residing in Mumbai once met with a serious accident. An ambulance was called but could not reach on time. People gathered at the spot had to take him to the hospital in a private vehicle.

Usually, ambulances have a tough task in reaching the accident spot and getting the patients to hospitals on time. So, I decided to put this board on my motorcycle and make motorists aware that they must make way for the ambulance on hearing the siren.

Kalyanaraman Venkatesan (5)

Q) Have you analysed on why motorist do not make way for emergency vehicles like ambulance, fire brigade?
A) The traffic in India is not well organised and, people are not very well educated about the traffic rules. Most of them are not aware of the importance to be given to an ambulance on the road. Few of them, instead of clearing and pulling to the side of the road are seen racing ahead of the ambulances or following closely behind them to pass more quickly through traffic. It is all about lack of driving sense and awareness in situations when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind.

I accept that there might be several reckless drivers who don’t give importance to such issues, but this can’t be generalized. Personally, I have even seen vehicles-for-hire (like auto-rickshaw) giving way to ambulance.

Kalyanaraman Venkatesan (4)

Q) Reaction of people on seeing this board? Do they ask you questions?
A) Yes, they do. My friends and colleagues tell me that every time they see an ambulance or hear a siren, they remember the board and try and make way for the ambulance. Thanks to people on social media for spreading my message across many. Even the PRESS reporters approach me when they see the board and have interviewed me for their news channels and newspapers. There are many bikers who have started following my way, not only in Pune but also from other cities. It encourages me more when I see people doing such activities.
Even if a person follows my message and makes way for the ambulance, it makes a big difference.

Q) Do you host lectures, seminars to promote this message at a larger scale?
A) Yes. I have seen people react when they hear siren or see an ambulance coming from behind but are confused on what to do next. So to make them aware, I have started delivering lectures at corporate offices and industries and even educational institutes.

Kalyanaraman Venkatesan (13)

Q) Are you associated with any organization ?
A) I am actively working with Street Sense, an organization started by bikers in association with Pune RTO. The aim of Street Sense is to create awareness of Road Safety and Helmet Safety.
Moreover, the bikers in this organization run their motorcycles as two-wheeler ambulance during Palkhi procession and Ganpati festival.

Veteran cartoonist Mangesh Tendulkar and me during the Independence day awareness rally with Street Sense and Pune RTO.
Veteran cartoonist Mangesh Tendulkar and me during the Independence day awareness rally with Street Sense and Pune RTO.

Q) So you are promoting the use of helmet as well?
A) On my personal interest I am delivering lectures about traffic rules and helmet safety at corporate offices, industries, schools and colleges.

I have seen many people opposing helmet rule implemented by the Government. As said earlier, about my cousin who met with a serious accident was saved mainly because of the helmet. His helmet broke into two pieces, so just imagine the impact during the fall.

The study shows that the death rate in two wheeler accidents has increased due to non-use of helmets. Youngsters are prone to reckless riding and do not take precautions like wearing helmets. They also lack basic motorcycling skills and safety awareness.

Even though I am delivering lectures at corporate offices and industries, spreading awareness at schools and colleges seems to be more important. I got tremendous response from school authorities. Such seminars will help reach the message of safety to their parents, relatives whoever is using a two-wheeler.

Till now, I have delivered seminars in more than 15 educational institutes. To list a few of them are Kaveri College of Science and Commerce; Suryadatta College of Hotel Management, Modern College of Arts Science and Commerce, Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture for Women, Marathwada Mitra Mandal College of Commerce, Pimpri-Chinchwad Polytechnic, Dr. Ramkrishna College, RMD Sinhgad College of Engineering, Symbiosis School,  Suryadatta School etc.

Kalyanaraman Venkatesan (9)

Q) Any message to technwheelz readers?
A) If there is an ambulance behind you drive to the left side of the road. If you are standing at a busy, congested area and see that the ambulance is struggling to find its way out, help to clear the way by requesting other motorists on road. Never race ahead of an ambulance or follow closely behind them to pass more quickly through traffic.

Kalyanaraman Venkatesan (8)

If you read the board on my motorcycle it says “ALWAYS GIVE WAY TO AMBULANCE. EMPATHIZE, SOMEDAY IT COULD BE YOU”. “Give way to ambulance” is a common saying but, “Empathize, Someday It Could Be You” will make people think and thus makes my message more stronger.

Unedited and as told to

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