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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Traffic police penalize Qatar cyclists for breaking road rules

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Police are ticketing bicycle riders for traffic violations daily, a senior police spokesman has said, even as one avid cyclist claims a lack of respect from motorists makes it different to follow the law while on two wheels.

Lt.-Col. Mohammed Radi Al Hajri, the Traffic Department’s director of media and awareness, told police magazine Shurtha Maak that common infractions include riding on sidewalks, failing to wear helmets, not keeping to the right side of the road and riding bicycles without proper lights, according to The Peninsula.

“Our campaigns target all road users … We have conducted many field campaigns related to bicycles,” he was quoted as saying.

Al Hajri added that most cycling violations are recorded in the Industrial Area.

In theory, Qatar has strict rules for cyclists. In 2013, the traffic department made it mandatory for riders to wear a helmet and reflective jacket as well as outfit bicycles with a rearview mirror, horn, rear and pedal reflectors and a front light, among other equipment.

 Those who don’t have the proper gear risk having their bicycle seized, authorities said at the time.

Al Hajri did not appear to say how many tickets were issued to cyclists daily, and there is no breakdown for cyclist penalties in Qatar’s official monthly figures for traffic violations.

In addition to such cyclist-specific rules, bicycles are also covered by the same traffic laws as vehicles, Al Hajri suggested.

However, one local avid cyclist said he sees many of his fellow riders bending the rules out of concern for their own safety.

Ahmed Fawzi, the founder of Qatar Cycling Community, said many riders will travel against vehicle traffic because it gives them more time to react to, for example, a car that’s drifting out of its lane.

bicycling in QatarHe told Doha News that other cyclers eschew the road altogether in favor of the sidewalk, where they feel safer.

“The big 4x4s – (drivers) don’t have great visibility, especially with so many people using their phone,” Fawzi said.

So far, he added, traffic police officers appear understanding.

“I’ve never heard of anyone getting a cycling ticket.”

However, Fawzi added that there is a general lack of awareness surrounding the rules for cyclists in Qatar, and that personal opinions differ over whether bikes belong on the road, the sidewalk or the hard shoulder.

Fawzi said he’s been shouted at by passing motorists who yell at him to “Get out of the road.”

Promoting cycling

Along with road safety perceptions, Qatar’s harsh summer heat means cycling advocates can face challenges in encouraging others to commute on two wheels.

But as the government explores ways of increasing physical activity among Qatar residents, initiatives such as a bike rental shop at the Aspire Zone are taking off.

Meanwhile, urban planners are working at making it easier to get around by bike.

The Qatar National Bicycle Master Plan, released in 2010, says all new expressways must include lanes for cyclists, and that existing roads should be refitted to allow for bicycle lanes.

Fawzi said there are already bicycle lanes around the Aspire Zone, along parts of Salwa Road, near the airport as well as along Ceremonial Road outside Al Rayyan, among others.

“It’s getting better, but awareness needs to be increased,” he said.

Fawzi said motorists can sometimes be seen driving in bike lanes with apparent impunity, and suggests that bollards or other barrier be installed to keep vehicles out.

More broadly, he suggested that increasing the number of cycling-related special events, such as the Wheels and Heels fundraiser that closes the Corniche to motor vehicles, could boost the number of cyclists in Qatar.

Additionally, he notes how Dubai has constructed dozens of kilometers of dedicated bike trails to make it easier for the city’s residents and visitors to cycle.

“That would be my dream,” he said.

Thoughts?

32 COMMENTS

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The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

The Asian guy cycling along one of the underpasses on Shamal Road, in the dark, with no lights, in the safety lane, BUT on the wrong side of the road is something that I’ll never forget. On the other hand I was nearly wiped out by a LC who thought he had time to turn right in front of me and couldn’t understand why I was swearing at him, and I think it’s going to be a long haul for some car users to accept that bikes should be on the road. I’ve absolutely nothing against cyclists using sidewalks because it’s safer for them and with tolerance and common-sense by both cyclists and pedestrians it would be perfectly safe for all.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Yeah some of those dudes have no clue. They seem to see no difference in the roads of the small place they lived and staring down the bumper of a LC barreling down the North Road, Salwa or Waab. It’s no wonder there are so many accidents like that.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Now if they could just ticket the insane LC drivers daily. OH can’t, for obvious reason.

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

It’s for a good reason.

MarkDoha
MarkDoha
6 years ago

Brilliant. Thought I was reading Pan Arabia Enquirer for a minute. Cyclists are the scourge of the road with their erratic driving, speeding, constant mobile phone use, disrespect for other road users…bang ’em all up.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
6 years ago

Good! Because just this morning a little Asian man on a white bicycle got on my bumper flashing his little reflective light and ringing the bell. He nearly ran me off the road trying to swerve around me. Can you believe he was on his phone and wasn’t wearing a helmet??? What is this country coming to???

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

The same guy cut me off at the lights this morning! He kept edging in while on the phone. Then at one point he sped off doing a full wheelie down the road before the lights turned green. No respect whatsoever.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Spokesman from the traffic police said, “we had to crack down on these dangerous cyclists. The damage they were causing as their bikes and bodies came off the bodywork of land cruisers was causing much distress. Some motorists were without their landcrusiers for a whole week while they were being fixed and we couldn’t even get compensation out of these maniacs as they were hiding in hospital.”

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

That was actually funny.

Lorin
Lorin
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

U made my day^_^…T’was so funny….

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Lorin

My pleasure. I just wonder if the traffic police realise we just laugh at them and their pathetic attempts to sound like they are making a difference to the carnage on the roads? They have less respect than a chai wallah.

Avid Cyclist
Avid Cyclist
6 years ago

There are two issues here (amongst many). Firstly, there are two types of cyclist: The hobbyists and the ones on grocery bicycles with zero safety who are more often than not too poor to afford bicycle equipment let alone a ticket. I’ve seen the latter ride on roads regardless of the fact that bike lanes are available on pavements. They need awareness and public initiatives to provide safety equipment. The second issue here is priorities! I fell pretty badly off my bicycle after losing traction on a patch of oil that had been deposited from a car parked on the bicycle lane. Drivers need to be made aware of our presence and only then will we be able to comply with road laws. Mutual respect is the only way to ensure both of us are safe so, when I need to deal with a car speeding down the bicycle lane in my direction, you’ll have to excuse me for riding on the pavement and get your priorities in check.

dubious
dubious
6 years ago
Reply to  Avid Cyclist

third type of cyclist: commuters

Penny Farthing
Penny Farthing
6 years ago

Land Cruise reg 71400 deliberately drove at me last Friday morning on Ceremonial Road. Maybe it wouldnt have happened if I’d had been wearing a hi-viz and had a bell on the bike.

Qatar failing to address the real issue here as usual.

cuddlefish
cuddlefish
6 years ago

Doha has the perfect set up for a bike commute city: 7 months of great cycling weather, not a single hill. Dubai is starting to see this option and had a first official “cycle to work” day some weeks ago. I am sure if there were bikelanes, quite a few expats would use their bike to go to work and decongest the roads. Not many, but it would be a start.
The old world is giving the example: Make roads as unattractive for cars as possible, so people will use the bikes, as they are faster. In many major European cities (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt..), the distance you cover faster by bike (at a normal, easy commuting pace) compared to using a car (at speed limit) is more than 5 km already and growing!

Bdmoh
Bdmoh
6 years ago

This is ridiculous for so many reasons. To me, my bicycle is a way of transportation rather than just a hobby. I can’t keep to the cycling track all the time because all Doha is under construction, even the roads with cycling track or of a poor condition. You find land cruisers parking on the track in Salwa Road, you will find the bus station on the cycling track so people gather on the track and I dare you to pass. It seems like the nobody put thought into the cycling track, there are always bottle necks where you can find 2 metal posts built on the track,you risk smashing your head everytime u pass between them.

Driving against traffic direction or on sidewalks is of course safer, if I give the cars my back I swear they intimidate you on purpose.

I don’t believe applying some penalties will help anything except discourage people from cycling in a city that is already suffering from terrible traffic and high obesity rates. I demand the authorities to show stats for biking accidents and compare to cars and you will know where the problem really lies.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago

It’s easier to fine the people living in industrial area then fine the people who cause the majority of road accidents I suppose that is their logic. Instead of spending money on useless billboards why not use the money to give some of these people safety equipment and perhaps better bikes with some training. The bike culture (and pedestrian) culture has grown in Dubai. I hope it becomes safe enough to grow here as well.

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
6 years ago

Sooooo pleased to see that Qatar traffic police have FINALLY got their priorities right. Those pesky cyclists!! Ggggrrrrrr. ;))))

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Al Hajri, why not take trip out of your gilded palace and actually go to the Industrial Area? Not many pavements there to infringe upon, but plenty of illegality involving exploited labourers you might want to tell your peers about. And you may care to go out to the ‘ceremonial’ road and see how many skidmarks on the dedicated bike tracks there are from arseholes in land cruisers who use them as short cuts and donut tracks. You may even see a few people driving and talking on their phones on the way out there too, but hey, that Traffic dept. is pretty (actually) palatial, why would you want to leave and actually see what’s happening, especially on that inflated salary?

Ibrahim Ali
Ibrahim Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

The donut place closed down months ago (probably almost a year now). You are the one who needs to get out more often.

Donut Salesman
Donut Salesman
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Ali

Hahahaha I can’t tell if you’re joking or not…

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

Anon, you are wrong. Qatar is the best place in the world for bicycle riders. The cars give way to them, just as they do in the Netherlands. The friendliness of the traffic participants is overwhelming. If you say something else you are a liar.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

just fell off my chair laughing

truth.e.ness
truth.e.ness
6 years ago

i’ll be fitting my bike with 800 extreme LED lights immediately to avoid any fines from the police. for safety. and that way i can flash/blind other cyclists who travel at a safe speed which i deem to be too slow for my commute to the barber, dry cleaner, tea & zinker cafe, maid rental/return center, car wash, etc.

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  truth.e.ness

zinker cafe. ROFL

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

finally, some action, let’s get those dangerous bicycles off the road

Myrddin
Myrddin
6 years ago

Good to see that the Traffic Police have finally got their priorities right. These cyclists pose the greatest threat to road safety in Doha.

Every time I see a cyclist on the road on my way to/from work I can’t help thinking to myself ‘that homicidal maniac is going the right way to killing some poor innocent ****er’!

Keep up the good work officers! A big ‘Well Done’!!

bleh!!
bleh!!
6 years ago

guess the vehicles of the authorities are not fast enough to catch the speeding LCs instead they resort to catching people who are slower!!!

Augustine Jones
Augustine Jones
6 years ago

Good Day to all the fast movers, in Towns and Cities, with great weather approaching, #Bikes
and #Mopeds will become part of #Traffic. VisibleCouture.com (VC) is reminding you of the importance to be being visible and wear reflective clothing. Give yourself the advantage to be seen first. Let us not give
our #Legislators and #Insurance companies any reasons to hit you one more time,
wear #Reflective #Clothing and #Helmet. Be safe not Sorry.

disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
6 years ago

This issue really hits a nerve for me. I commented on another article a few weeks ago that in my neighborhood, the main roads are being expanded into three lanes which effectively takes away any buffer space between the road and the [narrow, inconsistent] sidewalk — in some sections cars now drive inches away from pedestrians and cyclists, and can easily clip somebody’s arm with a side mirror if they are not careful. Hotels and other businesses also take over sections of sidewalk by building elevated ramps (for CARS), and adding concrete barriers and landscaping, effectively forcing pedestrians and cyclists to step into the road when they pass by. Tell me, what does the government propose to do about that? If you are going to ticket cyclists for jumping sidewalks then first make sure they have somewhere safe to go!
Having said that…I’ll concede that it is good for the police to speak to cyclists about road rules. Asghal or whoever handles infrastructure needs to be on the same plane with them and tackle these problems together, not 10 years later. Otherwise the policemen’s warnings are useless.
I know they have a LOT on their plate right now. But this is the problem — progress is in the name of the World Cup etc, and the finer details that matter most to residents and citizens start falling through the cracks. They’ll probably only build bike lanes in West Bay and other swanky/touristy places.

BBCA
BBCA
6 years ago

Oh I’m sure the question has been stated and asked a million time but You guys can take one more “When are they going to start giving citations to bad drivers?”

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago

what a load of tosh – the fact is it should be safe enough to ride a bike without high vis or a helmet – if there was anything like decent policing of dangerous driving, and a respect and awareness of all road users was something to abide by !

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