AJMAN // Ajman Police are handing out 2,000 bicycle helmets and 2,000 reflective safety jackets to cyclists as part of a two-week safety campaign to reduce accidents.
Ajman Police said yesterday the campaign would begin on Sunday, targeting workers from Asian countries in a bid to create a culture of bicycle safety.
The awareness campaign was initiated by police after they noted an increase in the number of people using bicycles as a means of transport, particularly among the Chinese community in the emirate, which has grown in number following the opening of the China Mall last December.
The increased use of bicycles, coupled with a lack of awareness on how to ride safely, had resulted in more accidents, police said.
Last year, the number of accidents involving bicycles in the city tripled from five in 2009 to 15.
During the campaign, police patrols will be deployed in three main areas in the emirate, namely Rashid bin Humaid junction, the Industrial area and near the China Mall.
The patrols will stop cyclists and give them helmets, safety jackets and safety booklets, as well as explain to them how to cycle safely on the roads.
"The aim is to educate cyclists about the rules but, at the same time, we know that many of them are low-income workers who do not want to spend Dh100 to buy a helmet, so we are also encouraging them by giving them a free one," said Col Sultan Abdullah al Nuaimi, the deputy director of Ajman Police.
The police patrols will also inspect bicycles to ensure they have all the necessary equipment to be safe, and take down the contact details of all cyclists for their records.
Police are also considering enforcing new bicycle legislation that would allow them to penalise those who do not follow safety regulations, such as wearing a helmet.
"We have a direction of passing a rule in this regard, but we will wait for three to six months before implementing it, to have a chance to educate people on bicycle safety," said Col al Nuaimi.
The exact penalties have not yet been determined but may include confiscation of the bicycle for a limited period for a first-time offence, or seizure of the bicycle for repeat offences.
"Our aim is to save lives and reduce accidents and not to punish people, but enforcing penalties is an effective tool in making people adhere," Col al Nuaimi said.