Dozens of cyclists had their bicycles confiscated in a safety drive by Abu Dhabi Police over the past week.
Owners said officers told them to stick to a number of road rules when cycling in the city, including the use of dedicated cycle lanes and wearing the correct safety gear.
In a statement, the force said officers seized bikes across the city last week as their owners were flouting several safety rules.
On Sunday, police invited the cyclists to an awareness session and handed out leaflets that highlighted a number of rules they must follow when biking in the city. All confiscated bikes were returned to their owners and they received a number of free safety gear including helmets and high visibility vests.
While no new rules have been laid down, officers said they want to encourage the safe use of bicycles.
Police said bicycles should be fitted with front and rear lights and urged cyclists to avoid riding in crowded areas.
Last Monday at 4.15pm, Royce O, 31, a bookkeeper who asked that his surname not be published, said he was approached by a plainclothes police officer as he rode his bicycle at a pedestrian crossing on Al Falah Street.
“The officer showed me his ID, asked for my ID, then accompanied me to the pavement behind the mini mart where several other cyclists were standing,” he said.
“There was a truck nearby … one-by-one they were loading the bikes on to it, taking down personal details from each of us.”
Royce has cycled from his home in the city centre to his workplace in Khalidiya for the past two years, six days a week.
The journey usually takes about 15 minutes each way.
“I always wear the correct safety gear because I know there are rules around that," he said.
“I’ve never been stopped before and the officer just placed a sticker on my bike with my personal details on it and informed me I would receive a call on Sunday.”
Royce said he received no further details as to why his bicycle, which he says is worth about Dh700, was confiscated.
In 2015, the Dubai Executive Council passed a resolution to improve road safety for cyclists and motorists in the emirate.
The regulations banned bicycles from roads where speed limits exceeded 60 kilometres per hour, as well as on paths meant for pedestrians.
Cyclists found breaking the rules will be fined an amount between Dh200 and Dh500, depending on the offence.
In recent years, transport authorities have upgraded infrastructure to promote and encourage cycling as a mode of transport.
Abu Dhabi's Safety and Traffic Solutions Committee said cyclists must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle and use appropriate reflective clothing, such as high-visibility vests.
However, residents have taken to social media to express their frustration with many asking if the new rules have come into play regarding cycling within the city limits.
Last Sunday, restaurant manager, Dong R, 47, who cycles three nights a week with a local group, said he saw a number of people gathered opposite the Habib Bank on Al Falah Street.
"I saw officers filling a [lorry] with bicycles … I thought it was because they were blocking the path or because the owners were not wearing helmets," he said.
A police officer told him it was a public safety issue, after "a number of accidents involving bicycles".
“He told me cyclists can only use bike lanes in the city or along the Corniche and people have to take a taxi, car or bus to transport their bike to designated cycling spots."
Dong, whose own bicycle is valued at more than Dh3,000, said the move has deterred him from cycling around the city until he has a clear picture of the rules.
Jhun A, 37, also part of a local bike riding group, said several of his friends had been left without bicycles after the recent crackdown.
“We try to use the cycle lanes as much as we can but in some areas they just don’t exist," he said.
"During our group rides we sometimes have to cycle on the roads and retain single-line pacing."
He said the confiscation of bicycles without warning was too harsh.
Abu Dhabi Police have been contacted for comment but have yet to respond.
Abu Dhabi Police - cycling tips
- Wear helmets, arm and knee pads
- Ride with a white light facing forward and a red light facing backward
- Fix rear reflectors to alert other road users
- Do not carry loads that affect your balance
- Ride bicycles on the service road and dedicated cycling tracks
- Take extra care when riding on sidewalks to avoid colliding with pedestrians
- Use cycling tracks in parks and avoid riding bikes in crowded areas