SHARJAH // Almost 300 bicycles were confiscated during the last week of 2014, according to the head of the safety and inspection unit at Sharjah Municipality.
The bikes were seized because they lacked the proper safety features, such as light reflectors, and their owners were not wearing helmets or the high-visibility safety vests, Ibrahim Alrayes.
“We received numerous calls from residents complaining about cyclists ignoring the traffic laws, their behaviour put commuters on the road at risk,” said Mr Alrayes.
A total of 283 bicycles were confiscated by municipality officials and the police, mostly from labourers, and taken to a scrap yard in the emirate’s industrial area.
Masom Abdulmajeed, a Bangladeshi blacksmith’s assistant, said he rides his bike around the industrial areas but doesn’t wear a helmet as it is too hot.
“I live and work in the industrial area, my salary is Dh1,100, certainly I can’t afford to buy a car. I use public transport during the hot summers, but when the weather is good I use my bicycle to save more money to send to my family back home.”
He refuses to wear the safety vest and helmet because it makes him sweat.
“I heard stories about people that got their bicycles confiscated because they don’t wear the helmet,” said Mr Abdulmajeed. “I won’t wear one because I can’t bear the heat from wearing the helmet.”
Pakistani Omran Shafeeq, 21, uses his bicycle to deliver groceries from a supermarket.
“I don’t wear a helmet, because I ride for short distances, also I don’t usually go on main roads, my longest journey is around 30 minutes.”
Mr Alrayes said the behaviour of cyclists reflects badly on the image of the emirate, and he urged residents to report any wrongdoing by cyclists on the municipality hotline 993 and through the municipality website.
Three years ago Dubai passed a law making it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets and high-visibility jackets, with a Dh500 fine for people found breaking the rules.
Major Abdul Rahman Khatir, Director of the Traffic Awareness Department at Sharjah Police, said bike riders, specifically in the industrial areas, do not adhere to the traffic laws, which makes them at risk of being hit by a vehicle.
“They ride haphazardly and without the proper safety guards like helmets and safety vests. It is our responsibility to minimize injuries and fatalities on the roads, and we do that through constant awareness campaigns throughout the year that target everyone who uses the roads inside the emirate.”
The major said cyclists should ride on the side of the road so that they don’t get in the way of motorists, who also have to take extra caution when there is a bike rider near them.