Workers have bikes confiscated for not wearing safety helmets and vests

Wearing a high visibility vest and helmet is mandatory by law

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð Nov 23: Left to Right- Aftab Sain and Barkat Ali from Pakistan riding on bicycle at Jumeirah in Dubai. They are working for Emirates Star company as a gardner. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Weekender.

Gardeners in Dubai say they cannot get to their jobs after their bicycles were confiscated because they were not wearing safety gear.

A law issued eight years ago in Dubai made it compulsory for cyclists to wear protective headgear and a high-visibility vest.

Over the past few weeks, municipality officials have been cracking down on anyone not abiding by the safety rules.

In one case, a bike was taken from a Pakistani gardener outside Spinneys supermarket on Al Wasl Road.

“They told me they would take my bicycle,” said Pervez, a gardener who works in Al Safa.

“I talked back to him and he said I could go to jail. That’s why I didn’t say anything.”

Pervez said he did not receive a warning and was not told how he could get his bike back.

“They didn’t say I could come with ID and pay a fine,” he said. “They just took it away in a big truck.”

He plans to buy another bike for Dh350 when he receives his monthly salary of Dh1,200.

Pervez will also buy a helmet and jacket, which is likely to cost about Dh40, to prevent it from happening again.

“I am just a labourer,” he said. “I keep Dh400 in my pocket for my bills and I send all the rest of my money to Pakistan.”

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He said his brother and cousin also had their bikes confiscated for the same reason. The three men are not alone, according to posts on the topic on the closed Umm Suqeim and Jumeirah Women Facebook group.

“My gardener just showed me a photo of the truck with all the bikes on it and his poor friend in tears,” one member, an Australian named Meredith, wrote.

She asked the group for information about where her gardener could pick up his bike.

Meredith told The National that the gardeners relied on their bikes and so to take them away without warning was not fair.

"They don't have a voice and they are very fearful of speaking up and saying anything," said Meredith, who has lived in Dubai for four years.

“It just needs more consideration because these are the people who make up the infrastructure and community to make Dubai. “They’re important. They make a difference.”

She said she often saw gardeners riding around Al Safa 2 with their vests in their baskets.

“It’s just too hot to wear that,” Meredith said. “They can issue them with a flag for their bikes or helmets.

“And there are bigger fish to fry here if you’re talking about safety on the roads.”

The law on protective gear was issued in 2010 to increase cyclists’ safety on the country’s busy roads. It is enforced across the UAE.

In June, Ajman Police said they confiscated 109 bikes in a week-long campaign, after the cyclists were caught riding without wearing high-visibility vests.

Fluorescent vests and helmets have been distributed to cyclists in the past, Arabic daily Aletihad reported.

Dubai Municipality was contacted for comment but did not respond on Monday.

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