Saturday, August 20, 2011

Death race: Deadly Bets Fuel Speed Freaks

Death race: Deadly Bets Fuel Speed Freaks - Times Of India
The city has its own drag race circuit — the flyovers — where biker boys, barely into their teens, stake their lives on killer races. It's not just speed that drives this deadly racket, but money as well. Gamblers place bets on bikers: the higher the risk, the higher the bet.

It's a dark, dangerous world — and it's Kolkata's worst kept secret.

Police deny vehemently that Kolkata has Florida-type street races but the truth is getting increasingly harder to deny. "It's like having a drunkard in the family. You don't admit it, but the whole neighbourhood knows it," said a street biker, who chose to keep his helmet and visor on.

These Fast-and-the-Furious type races are held in the dead of night. The money put on each biker could range from `3,000 to `10,000, which is not bad pocket money for a teenager. There is extra money for stunt competitions — like doing wheelies (riding on the rear wheel alone) and stoppies (lifting the rear wheel using momentum and hard braking) at high speed.

"You can almost smell the adrenaline, if it wasn't for the burning rubber and exhaust," says a 20-year-old who was part of these drag races till he crashed recently.

The happiest hunting ground is the AJC Bose Road flyover where a schoolboy was killed on Tuesday while racing a classmate. Eyewitnesses had reckoned that Class XII student Atif Rehman was doing 80kmph when he crashed, throwing his pillion rider, Supriyo Roy, on to the concrete. But the police team that investigated studied the impact on the guard wall said Atif Rehman was doing at least 130 kmph when he crashed.

"If there is a teenager in the locality who is a speed maniac, other teenagers in the neighbourhood easily get influenced. We have tried to discourage Atif. We even started a gym for the boys to get their mind off bikes and racing but with little success," said Hailder Ali of Karaya Sporting club, opposite Atif's residence.

More and more teenagers are being drawn into the night races on flyovers. Many even race in the day, placing bets on who can zip faster through traffic.

"There is a huge amount of money involved in the speed game. It's a big attraction for the youngsters. They use the flyovers in the day for practice. It is scary to see that kind of speed," said a restaurant employee near Park Circus who regularly witnesses such drag races.

Cape Town denies toll claims

Cape Town denies toll claims: Fin24: Economy
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has denied claims by SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) that it failed to respond to the transport minister's decision to convert the N1 and N2 highways between the city and the Cape Winelands into toll roads.

“The city wrote to Sanral during the intent-to-toll process requesting that its concerns be addressed and stating that if this was not done, the city would consider legal action," the city's mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, Brett Herron, said on Thursday.

Sanral's claims that the city was extensively engaged in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process, and that the city did not appeal the decision, were also untrue.

"The first decision in the EIA process was made on 30 September 2003," Herron said.

"The city was dissatisfied with the decision and did appeal. The appeal process was finalised in 2008, but the city's appeal was unsuccessful.

"However, the city was informed that, as per the agreement entered into between Sanral and the department of environmental affairs, the socioeconomic impacts of tolling would be considered during the intent-to-toll process."

There was also an indication from the EIA practitioner acting on behalf of Sanral that there would be further talks between the city and itself regarding costs and benefits resulting from the tolls.

"It appeared premature to institute review proceedings at that stage," Herron said.

The city wrote to Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele to inform him that an intergovernmental dispute had been declared with Sanral over its plans for the toll road.

Sanral said this week there was a "dispute" between it and the city over the proposed toll road.

"Sanral has engaged with the City of Cape Town over nine years on this project," the agency said.

The city was given an opportunity to participate, prior to Ndebele's decision to declare the road a toll road.

"Sanral contends that there is no dispute between the city and itself and that it remains open for further engagement with the City of Cape Town."