Dubai: Conflicting actions by Dubai Police and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) have left cyclists in the lurch in the city.
While the RTA has been encouraging people to use cycles to travel short distances, the police have launched a campaign against bicycles for safety reasons leaving residents utterly confused.
Police have impounded more than 1,164 bicycles since the beginning of March as part of a campaign to enforce safety regulations. However, the worst part is that confiscated cycles are not being returned to their owners.
Gulf News also came across some officials in plain clothes impounded bicycles on Al Mankhool Road last week and throwing them onto a pick-up truck.
"I was crossing the road from the pedestrian crossing when a man in plain clothes stopped me and confiscated my cycle saying that it is not allowed to cycle in Dubai," said Julian, a Filipino. He said he was in for a further shock when he was told that he would not get his bicycle back.
Ahmed Kutty, a grocery delivery boy in Bur Dubai, said he had already had to part with at least two bicycles. "We have to use cycles to deliver grocery over short distances but my job has become very hard after my second cycle was confiscated about 10 days ago," he said.
Shahzad Raza, an Indian salesman, said he failed to understand the logic behind such extreme action. "On one hand, the RTA is encouraging people to use cycles for short distances and is also building cycling tracks while on the other hand people are scared to use cycles for fear of their confiscation," he added.
"This is discouraging and contrary to the Dubai's plan to reduce the use of private vehicles," said Jason H., a British expatriate. He said the conflicting actions would discourage cycling in the city especially at a time when the RTA is trying to integrate it with the public transport system by building cycling tracks and parking facilities at the Metro and bus stations. He urged the authorities concerned to clarify the issue and come out with a clear policy.
The RTA had prepared a comprehensive plan for 580km of cycling tracks on different roads in the city in addition to providing parking facilities for cyclists across the city.
"We do have plans but the implementation has been delayed," said an RTA official. However, he did not explain the reason behind the delays.
There is already a cycling track on Jumeirah Road while Al Diyafah Street, Al Mina Road, Al Mankhool Road, Khalid Bin Waleed Street and Al Seef Road are also due to get similar tracks as part of the first phase of the plan. Cycling tracks are also planned along the service lanes of Shaikh Zayed Road.
According to RTA figures, there are more than 100,000 bicycles used in the city mainly in the commercial business districts of Deira and Bur Dubai areas as well as in labour camps.
Don't ride on sidewalks
A spokesperson of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority said that UAE Federa1 Law (No. 21 of 1995), along with Ministerial Order No. 130 of 1997, addresses the legislative requirements for bicycles and cycling in the city. Article I6 of the Law states that people shall ride on a bicycle on the right side of the road. People are also prohibited from riding a bicycle on sidewalks.
The spokesperson said the RTA has also recommended some amendments in the law to provide more liberty to cyclists and to ensure their safety.
Speed limit implications
Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of the general department of traffic at Dubai Police, said that riding bicycles is not permitted on most of the roads with speed limit 60km/hr with a few exceptions such as Jumeirah Road which has cycling track.
He said the campaign was launched this month to confiscate bicycles ridden on main roads especially from people riding bicycles in the opposite direction of the traffic.
The campaign is mainly concentrated in Khaled Bin Waleed road, Al Mankhool, and Al Mina road. "We have witnessed many violations in these areas where people ride their bikes without taking into consideration safety regulations such as jumping a red light or recklessly taking a U-turn," he said.
"I do appreciate riding bicycles as it is a good alternative to driving cars but it's only for certain areas," he added.
Have your say
Do you think this would discourage people from using environmentally friendly modes
of transportation? Do you know of anyone who had their bicycle confiscated? Tell us.