x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Parents and children upset as bicycles are banned from park

Officials decide to remove cycles from Al Barsha Pond Park in Dubai after children cycle over flower beds and running tracks.

Empty lanes: Some visitors ignored the special tracks for cycling in Al Barsha Pond Park, officials said.
Empty lanes: Some visitors ignored the special tracks for cycling in Al Barsha Pond Park, officials said.

DUBAI // Safety concerns prompted a bicycle ban at Al Barsha Pond Park after reports of youngsters who failed to stick to the designated bike lane, park chiefs said yesterday.

Children and adults were allowed to bring bikes to the spot as recently as early last week before a sign was placed at the gates that informed visitors of the decision.

Security guards asked visitors to leave their bikes at the entrance or take them back to the car.

Ahmad Abdul Karim, the director of the public parks and horticulture department at Dubai Municipality, said: "There are special tracks for running and cycling in the park, but some visitors have not been following the rules and regulations. Some parents bring their children to the park but leave them unsupervised."

Mr Abdul Karim stressed that the municipality was responsible for ensuring the park was safe for everyone.

"The older children do not stick to the bicycle path and end up going over green areas, flower beds or the path intended for running, potentially causing an accident," he said.

"This is a safety concern because they could even hurt another child, so parents have to ensure they are supervised and limited to the bicycle path."

Mr Abdul Karim said the ban was temporary and could be lifted in the future.

Parents and children said they were disappointed and some were surprised to find out that bikes were not allowed.

Peyman Ghadimi, an Iranian father, said: "I am astonished by this decision because we brought my daughter's bike but ended up leaving it at the door.

"I completely agree that parents should not leave their kids without supervision, but accidents can happen anywhere, including the play area. If we stop activities based on that, then we would end up not leaving home," he said.

Mr Ghadimi's 10-year-old daughter, Kimia, was keen to voice her frustration as well.

"I think it is a very bad decision because parks should allow us to bike here, or it is not fun anymore," she said. "If it is a windy day and we cannot play ball, then we can get on our bike."

Kimia also pointed out the presence of children on skateboards, push scooters and inline skates.

"If they allow skateboards and Rollerblades, then why not bikes?" she asked.

Saima Naqvi, from Pakistan, was another parent who arrived at the park with a bike. "I always supervise my children," Mrs Naqvi said.

"It is unfortunate, because someone told us that there was a bicycle path and when we came here we were told that bicycles are not allowed. Naturally, my three-year-old was very upset."

Parents acknowledged the importance of safety and order, but said there were other solutions besides a bike ban.

"To be fair, they have done a lovely job with the flowers and the park, so that should be respected," said Lyndsey Anderson, from France. "They could maybe have park attendants, because it would be nice to let children bike here and it is good exercise for them."

Another mother suggested signs to ensure children were aware of the rules.

"Perhaps the municipality can put up small barriers to protect the flower beds," said Alaa Imad, a mother from Syria. "Another thing to consider is that younger children cannot really cause much harm. Maybe the older kids can but certainly not the little ones."

The park, which has both cycling and jogging tracks, was officially opened in March last year at a cost of Dh22 million.

balqabbani@thenational.ae