Dubai debate: Cyclists in Arabian Ranches endangered species after knockdown claims

An accident involving a cyclist and a vehicle in Arabian Ranches on Sunday evening sparked a debate on the presence of cyclers in and around the community.

On Sunday evening, a cyclist was hit by a vehicle on a road near Hattan, confirmed a security guard of the gated community Arabian Ranches.

Although the event could not be verified by the Traffic Department of Dubai Police, several eye witnesses reported the accident on an online forum.

It was the second accident involving a cyclist that week, explains one of the eye witnesses. In fact, cycling is a popular leisure activity in and around the Ranches, in addition to a means of transportation for short distances for some.

With the Spinneys coming up, plenty of cyclists have chosen the roads around the community to level up their fitness. And those riders see no harm in sharing the road, which is wide enough for all.

However, according to others the roads are not designed for cyclists. As no dedicated cycling lane has been developed in or around the Ranches, they should find their way somewhere else, they believe.

"Way too many times I have seen cyclists who take up the entire lane at the Ranches and cars have to wait until the second lane gets free so they can overtake.... no amount of honking will make them move towards the side, it's just not right they cycle on the main road as it's UNSAFE and no amount of safety gear can safe a life," writes an angry lady on the forum.

According to Omran Abdullah, public relations officer at the Traffic Department of Dubai Police cycling on non-dedicated lanes is not forbidden when the speed limit on that road is less than 80km/h.

However, these cyclists should be extra careful, he says. "Some cyclists are on the wrong side of the road, cross the road, or descend from a bridge on high speed on the middle of the road. To be safe a cyclist should take the bike by the hand when crossing a road, tunnel or bridge," he says.

Furthermore, proper driving gear can only increase the safety of a cyclist and the surrounding traffic. A helmet and reflective wear are advised by Dubai Police.

"If you are going to ride, you need to wear a reflective vest!" agrees a second eye-witness of the accident in the Ranches. "A few minutes after I saw the poor person lying on the ground, another cyclist was almost hit because he was too dark to see. The little reflectors on your bike just aren't enough."

However, many of the cyclists think it is the reckless driving of motorists that puts them into danger. "It happened to me in broad daylight. Nothing will save you from reckless drivers," tells the same eye witness referring to her encounter with a motorist, who was sent to prison for his reckless driving behaviour.

As sharing the road around the Ranches causes friction between cyclists and motorists, cycling within the community angers residents too, as this might endanger pedestrians.

"I always cycle on the paths but they are too narrow for cyclists and pedestrians. It can be difficult to overtake from behind if a group is walking and chatting and I feel a bit rude ringing the bell too loudly!" writes a cyclist in the community.

In response, a resident says the paths are meant for pedestrians, and that there are dedicated cycling lanes elsewhere in the city.

In the community rules for Arabian Ranches announced by Emaar, it is stated that "pedestrians shall have right of way on footpaths surrounding ornamental lakes. Joggers, cyclists, roller-bladers or persons using any other recreational means shall give way to pedestrians on the footpath."

But the lack of a dedicated cycling lane is a big missing point for the community, believe some and the development of riding trails was reportedly promised in the Arabian Ranches brochure.

"I wish there was a cycling lane around the Ranches; it would be lovely to have one through the wide landscaped area which runs around the perimeter and which currently has no path," writes a resident.

At the point of writing this, Emaar has not provided with a comment on the issue.

The debate on cycling in the community has left a bad taste in the mouth of some residents, who think both parties should cooperate and share the roads that the community hosts.

"To ban bikes from the roads is ridiculous; having an active community is a good thing and one of the things I love about the Ranches. Cars and bikes manage to co-exist on much smaller roads the world over, are Ranches residents really so inconsiderate that it's not possible here?" she wonders.

But the last word has not been said, as some residents believe that the presence of cyclists is not only a problem because of risks they pose, but also because the opportunity to cycle in and around the Ranches is being consumed by non-community residents.

"The accident last night involved a resident of the Ranches but time and time again I see a large number of bikes racing round the Ranches on their speed bikes. It's not the right place for this kind of activity. He is in a serious condition with a broken back, ribs, nose etc. Please guys, find somewhere else more safe that you are entitled to use," an angry resident writes.

The condition of the injured cyclist could not be verified.

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