x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Keeping cyclists safe

The latest serious injury of a triathlete cycling on UAE roads has shown the dangers they face here. The answer is dedicated cycle lanes but also education and enforcement

There was a depressing inevitability about the news that another triathlete has been struck by a car while cycling on UAE roads.

The serious injuries suffered by Etihad cabin crew manager Medhi Karasane, a regular on the nation’s triathlon circuit, come just two months after the death of Lebanese triathlete Roy Nasr, who was hit by a drunk driver in Dubai. That in turn was just one in a series of similar incidents.

The truth is that the UAE’s roads are not safe for cyclists. Dubai Police’s traffic chief Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zaffin accepted as much after Nasr’s death, saying that cyclists have to share the same lanes as all other traffic and only a network of dedicated cycle lanes will keep them safe.

For now, cyclists attempt to mitigate the risk by cycling at times when the roads are quietest. Both Karasane and Nasr were struck while cycling soon after dawn on weekend days.

But other cities around the world do not have dedicated cycle lanes, yet have far better safety records for cyclists. Cycle lanes will help but another part of the answer is a combination of education and enforcement.

Drivers must accept that they share the road with cyclists, and police must enforce the law. Only then will cycling safety truly improve.