Dubai employers should provide safety gear for workers who commute by bike, expert says

Road safety expert Thomas Edelmann makes call after police crackdown on Dubai roads

Employers have a responsibility to provide staff who use a bicycle for work with safety equipment, a UAE road safety campaigner says.

Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE, said companies should teach employees the rules of the road.

His comments came after Dubai Police announced they had confiscated 454 bicycles since the start of the year because of safety violations.

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Gardeners, maids and restaurant workers use bikes to get to work. It's important to raise awareness to help those people

Many included failure to wear a helmet or riding a bike without lights.

According to Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority, all bicycles must be fitted with one principal front light and a red light with a red reflector at the rear.

Cyclists can only use main roads if the speed limit is less than 60 kilometres an hour, and protective helmets must be worn at all times.

Mr Edelmann said most of the cyclists on the country's roads rely on their bicycles for their livelihoods.

“A lot of low income workers like gardeners and people making deliveries are using their bikes for commercial purposes and, unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of misbehaviour in that segment,” he said.

“It’s important to raise awareness to help those people, especially as most of them don’t have deep pockets to buy the safety equipment themselves.

“Most of them are earning very little and sending it home to their families.”

Dubai Police's operation led to 77 cycles being seized in Jumeirah, while 32 were taken on Sheikh Zayed Road, and 26 confiscated in Al Barsha.

In Al Satwa, 22 people had to give up their bikes, while 20 on Umm Suqeim Road were penalised, as were 16 people in Al Jafiliya; 14 in Al Karama; eight each in Discovery Gardens and Al Khail Road; six on Al Wasl Road, and one each on the December 2nd and Mohamed bin Zayed roads.

Another 55 bicycles were confiscated in the Al Muraqqabat area, 35 were taken from riders in Al Qusais; 46 in Al Rashidiya, and 87 in Naif.

“You have to understand the situation and really help these people and empower them and enable them to get access to protective gear,” Mr Edelmann said.

“They need support, and the first place to go to is the employer."

Making tracks

Most European cities have dedicated cycle paths beside roads.

Dubai has invested hundreds of millions of dirhams into bike tracks as part of the emirate's Bicycle-Friendly City Strategy 2025, and on Saturday, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, announced the latest extension of the emirate's cycle system with a video on Twitter.

The 16km bicycle track will be built along Dubai's Jumeirah Beach, connecting dedicated pathways on Jumeirah Street and Dubai Internet City.

"You have to applaud the decision to do everything to extend Dubai’s cycling network,” Mr Edelmann said.

“It’s a big move towards micro mobility and follows the trend in Europe, where we are seeing a lot more electric bikes and scooters.

"But we have to make the differentiation between the leisure cyclist who spends tens of thousands of dirhams on a bicycle to use on the cycle tracks, and the poor part of the population for whom this is their main means of transport.

"Gardeners, maids and restaurant workers use bikes to get to work.”

Motorists must learn to share space

Andy Fordham, the founder of Dubai Cycling Community, said motorists must be mindful of the vulnerability of cyclists.

“We haven’t the culture here of cyclists and motorists sharing the roads,” he said.

“It’s a generational thing and it’s going to take time for cyclists and motorists to co-exist.

“There is so much driver distraction these days, especially from people using phones while driving.”

He welcomed the new beach track.

“One of the biggest issues [for cyclists in Dubai] is the inability to cycle from one part of the city to the next,” he said.

“Anything that adds more cycling tracks is good news.”

“If you look at the facilities from 15 years ago compared to now you, will see how far this city has come in a short time,” he said.

“Sheikh Hamdan should be praised for taking such a lead.”