Cycling safety in the press – what is valid?
Recently, there have been articles in the press regarding cyclingsafety and law in Qatar. These were written as a result of theauthorities taking action against a particular cycling safety problemfaced in Al Ruwais. Both articles we have seen were unclear indifferentiating between legal requirements, good practice, and soundsafety advice. For example, the use of bar mirrors, and ‘phosphorescent’[sic] jackets (we assume fluorescent was intended here) are notmentioned in law although the latter appears to have been mandated as asolution to the problem in Al Ruwais. The positive side of thewidespread sharing of these reports has been an uptick in cyclistsimproving their visibility but also concern has been created around thepracticality of some measures, particularly for the sport and fitnesscyclist.
Our general advice for cyclists is that as long as you are takingeffective steps to aid your visibility, heeding the safety of yourselfand other road users; and that you are not unduly obstructing traffic,it is unlikely that you will fall foul of the law.
As a road user, you should be aware of the laws:
- You must wear a helmet
- You must ride single file, keeping to the right and in the correct direction of travel
- You must use front and rear lights in poor visibility or after dark.
The law also mandates the use of a rear reflector although we feel it isunlikely you will be prosecuted for this if you are using a modernsuper-bright LED rear light.
- The requirement to use dedicated cycling lanes is a little more greyas it is not always clear when a cycling lane is available. However,common sense dictates that you should not be cycling on the majorhighways such as the Al Khor Coastal Road or Shamal Road. Saferalternatives are available.
- When using a safety vehicle to follow a group, you should know thatit is illegal for your driver to drive slowly. There have been instancesover the years where safety car drivers have been fined.
None of this can be taken as legal advice and if you choose to bendor break any of the laws, you do so at your own risk. However, QCF’senquires to the traffic police confirmed that common sense can beapplied. The response by the authorities will be different depending onthe situation, whether you appear unsafe, and to what extent you might beviewed as an obstruction. That will depend on your behaviour and whereand when you are riding.