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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Cyclists aim to request permit after Dubai road ban

The ruling, which bans bikes from roads with speed limits exceeding 60kph as well as paths meant for pedestrians and imposes fines for violations, has been announced to ensure cyclists stick to dedicated tracks.
Cyclist groups in Dubai are hoping there is a way to get permits to cycle on certain roads with speed limits above 60kph. Pawan Singh / The National
Cyclist groups in Dubai are hoping there is a way to get permits to cycle on certain roads with speed limits above 60kph. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Cyclists training for speed and endurance by hurtling down major roads plan to approach authorities for permits in the wake of new laws.

The regulations, which ban bikes from roads where speed limits exceed 60kph, as well as paths meant for pedestrians and imposes fines for violations, were implemented to ensure cyclists use dedicated tracks.

Cycling groups such as the Dubai Roadsters, which sets out in packs with support vehicles for 80 to 140km rides at weekends on highways and main roads, have said they will keep to dedicated tracks until the rules are clarified.

“We will speak to authorities because we train in big groups. We take one lane and are protected by support cars with warning lights,” said Wolfi Hohmann, Dubai Roadsters’ founder.

“Authorities can inspect our rides. On a Friday morning we have 150 riders and ride from 5 to 8am so people don’t even see us. Everything is done before the city wakes. I understand concerns about a cyclist alone on the road. We respect the law and any attempt to make roads safer.”

Riding a bike outside a designated track can attract a Dh300 fine. Cyclists on roads with speed limits exceeding 60kph will be levied a Dh500 fine and a Dh200 penalty will be imposed on those riding on paths meant for walking and jogging.

The fine will double if the cyclist commits the same violation again within a year, according to a resolution passed by the Dubai Executive Council last Sunday.

The ban found some support.

“There is no need to ride on the road in Dubai because it has kilometres of closed tracks,” said Paul Venn, race director for the Dubai international triathlon.

“Anything that improves safety for cyclists is a good thing. If it stops people from getting killed it’s a good thing. How will you make an exception? Will it be for 4, 8, 20 bikes? A law is a law. Riding in a group does not make you immune to being hit by a car. It’s sad that you have to keep bikes off roads but it can save lives.”

One person was killed last year and 24 sustained injuries in accidents involving cyclists, according to Dubai Police.

There are more than 150 kilometres of dedicated cycle paths in Dubai, including a 25km path at Jumeirah Road and a 115km path at Seih Assalam and Al Qudra Road. A new 21-km track was recently announced by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

“Cyclists are advised to avoid roads where there are no dedicated cycle tracks in order to ensure their safety, said Maitha bin Udai, chief executive of the RTA’s Traffic and Roads Agency.

“Cycles can be ridden on community area roads as long as the road speed does not exceed 60kph and as long as there are no dedicated cycle tracks.”

However, for blue collar workers who use bikes to get to work the ban is a worry.

“We usually travel on inside roads but the connection is on fast roads,” said a Abdul Hafeez, a gardener who rides his bike wearing the prescribed helmet and fluorescent vest along the Nad al Sheba flyover with an 80km speed limit.

“I cannot afford to pay fines so how will I reach work? There are no buses available and taxis are too expensive.”

Cyclists from other emirates were concerned the ban may extend to other areas.

“I agree people should not be cycling by themselves on these roads but it would be reasonable for the government to give dispensation for organised cycling groups travelling in large numbers with a safety car behind them,” said Kevin Duell of Abu Dhabi’s Raha Cycling group, which organises 120km and 75km rides on weekends.

“We are visible as a group, a lone cyclist is not. It’s reasonable to allow us to use roads where the speed is more than 60 kilometres. For short periods we have to use the motorway to get to safer areas. Serious cyclists need distance and speed; you need roads for that.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae

The fines:

1- Cycling off designated bicycle paths (Dh300)

2- Cycling on road with a speed limit of over 60 km/hr (Dh500)

3- Reckless cycling that endangers cyclist and others (Dh300)

4- Cycling on paths dedicated for walking and jogging (Dh200)

5- Driving/parking vehicle on bicycle paths (Dh300)

6- Carrying passengers on an unequipped bicycle or without appropriate personal protection gear (Dh200)

7- Violating the authority’s regulations and conditions pertaining to cycling (Dh200).