In a bid to enforce discipline on the large number of cyclists who pay scant respect to road safety, the Traffic Department has issued a 10-point advisory.
Failure to follow the traffic safety rules will result in the confiscation of bicycles, it has been warned.
Helmet, reflecting jacket, rearview mirror (on the handlebar), horn, front light, rear reflector, dynamo (to power the front light), brakes, air pump (to be fixed on the down tube) and reflector on the sides of the pedals have been made mandatory.
The department has issued an illustrated leaflet in Arabic, Urdu and English to disseminate the road safety message among the public.
“At present, only a miniscule percentage of cyclists follow all these safety precautions,” a safety expert said while pointing out that offending cyclists often endangered themselves and others.
Bicycles are the preferred mode of transport of many low-income expatriates, a majority of whom disregard safety rules, either out of ignorance or carelessness.
“You can always find such cyclists riding the wrong way along busy roads and they are a big safety hazard for themselves and motorists,” a resident observed.
The situation is worse at night, because most of the cyclists do not wear reflective jackets and their bikes are devoid of front light and rear reflectors.
“If I notice a cyclist on the road while I am driving, I make it a point to stay as far away as possible because you never know when he would swerve or cut across your path without any warning,” a motorist said. This is an observation shared by many other motorists too.
“Some of the corner-shop delivery boys often weigh down their bicycles with heavy stuff like a five-gallon water bottle on the back carrier and couple of bags – laden with goods – hanging from the handlebar, making it very dangerous,” another resident said.
When a bicycle is so heavily loaded, it can fall over to a side at the slightest hint of any imbalance, throwing the rider in front of vehicles.
A resident commuting to the Industrial Area daily for work recalled that it is very common to come across cyclists who flout all safety rules.
“It is very scary, especially if I am driving back to Doha after sunset, because street lighting is not there in many parts of the Industrial Area and it may be too late to stop the car if a cyclist appears in front abruptly,” he said.
It is estimated that cyclists would have to spend anywhere between QR200 and QR300 to ensure they adhere to the 10-point safety guideline.
“For many, this amount is substantial, considering they are earning low salaries, so there is every possibility that they might hesitate to fix on their bicycles all the necessary accessories for safety, unless the rule is enforced strictly,” the expert added.