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Bike laws in UAE

Wednesday 16 January 2019 (UAE)   

Road rules for bicycles in the UAE

List of cycle laws for Dubai and UAE, UAE bicycle helmet rules, road rules for bikes, and other related legal information.

Cycle laws and safety in Dubai and UAE

See Cycling in UAE for this section.

Bicycle helmet law in Dubai and UAE

"Every person riding a bicycle shall wear a helmet." From Article 16 < Chapter 1 < Part 1 < Executive By-law of UAE Federal Law No. 21 for the year 1995 concerning Traffic (dated 20 Nov 1995) [no helmet reference in UAE Federal Law No. (21) of 1995, only in the Bylaw].

  • According to Wikipedia (22 Jan 2016 checked), wearing a bicycle helmet is a legal requirement in Dubai since 2010, but not in the rest of UAE, with a fine of AED 500 for not wearing a helmet in Dubai. No authoritative reference provided by Wikipedia though. Same article says only Australia and New Zealand strictly enforce bicycle helmet wearing laws, most other countries have no legal requirement, or only in some states, or only for children, or no penalty, or not strictly enforced.
  • helmets.org, a website promoting helmets and bike safety, says "Dubai adopted an all-ages mandatory helmet law in 2010." But does not mention the 1995 helmet law for the UAE.
  • 29 Oct 2010: Annabel Kantaria of The Telegraph (UK) said about the UAE (not just Dubai) "I believe it’s law to wear a helmet, though most don’t ..." but didn't say why she believed it.
  • 04 Dec 2010: The National reported that "... the introduction about three months ago of a new law in Dubai dictating that cyclists must wear helmets and high-visibility jackets or face a ruinous fine of Dh500." Reference to authoritative legal announcement not given, but the story did have anecdotal reports of cyclists being stopped and told by police of the new law.
  • "Always wear a cycle helmet while riding a bicycle." From The Official Road User Code of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, First Edition, 2013. Is under the Guidance heading, not Traffic Laws/Rules heading, so is presumably not a legal requirement in their opinion.
  • Helmets (of dubious quality) cost AED 25-40 dhs in Satwa (and probably Dragon Mart, we didn't check there). Or try supermarkets like Carrefour and Union Co-op (AED 29 for ones we saw) for cheap helmets. Yellow vests, also apparently required by law, cost about 10-20 dhs in Satwa, and more at bicycle shops and hardware stores. Helmets of not so dubious quality cost AED 100-500 at cycle or sports shops.
  • Many cyclists in Dubai and UAE don't wear a helmet (or a yellow vest), and haven't been fined or told off by anyone from the police, Dubai Municipality, or RTA. Admittedly that's like a car driver saying they haven't been fined when not wearing a seat belt.
  • Motorcyclists in the UAE must wear a helmet by law.

List of bicycle related laws in the UAE

Following is the English text of laws related to cycling in the UAE. Note that in the UAE, the official language of the court and legal system is Arabic, so only the Arabic version of UAE laws have any legal validity in court.

Assume the words "way" and "ways" mean "road" and "roads".

UAE Federal Law No. (21) of 1995 (Federal Traffic Law)

Article (1), definitions (note that "driver" is not explicitly defined but throughout the law it is implied a driver is the person in control of a vehicle, and a vehicle is explicitly defined as including a bicycle, therefore any laws referring to a "driver" should be assumed to apply to the person riding a bicycle e.g. Article 30 regarding driving under the influence of alcohol):

  • Vehicle: A mechanic vehicle or a regular bicycle, a motorcycle, or any other vehicle able to be driven on the way with a mechanic power or any other means including the tractor.
  • Motorcycle: A vehicle with two or more wheels, equipped with an automatic engine. It is destined for the transportation of persons and belongings.
  • Bikes: Vehicle with two or more wheels and that is not equipped with an automatic engine. It is driven by the propel power of the cyclist and is destined for the transportation of persons.

Article 35, lights:

  • Bikes shall be equipped with a main light in the front and a red light and reflector in the back.

Article 44, rental vehicles:

  • It shall be prohibited to practice vehicle rental unless after obtaining a permission for the Licensing Authority. It shall also be prohibited to rent bikes for persons aged under fifteen.

Executive Bylaws of the United Law No 21 for the year 1995

Article 16

  • Every person shall ride a bicycle at the border of the way. No person shall ride a bicycle across a way way [sic] [also written as "wayway" in some sources, typo for roadway?] or within a pedestrian crossover. Every person riding a bicycle shall not exceed the cyclist in front of him/ her unless upon different circumstances. They are not allowed to push any vehicle or to carry people unless their bicycle is equipped for this purpose.
  • Every person riding a bicycle shall wear a helmet.

Article 17

  • It is forbidden to ride a bicycle without holding the handlebars even if it is only with one hand, unless he is using the manual sign. He is not allowed to ride meandering or dangerously or in any other way that shall cause harm to others.

Article 30 (under Chapter 2 heading: The commitments of a vehicle driver while driving)

  • Every driver shall not be under the effect of alcohol or any alcoholic substance or drugs. He shall not as well drive a vehicle when exhausted then it can affect his control of the vehicle.

Article 48, parking

  • The standing of the vehicles of the animals shall be outside the border of the way when it is not within the cities but shall not be in areas designated for bicycles or pedestrians. In case it is necessary to stop at the border of the way, the driver shall use the warning signals especially at night and in a place where it is forbidden to park.

Article (166), number plates (reference to motorcycles only):

  • Vehicle plates are classified as follows: ... 4. Bikes plates. These are issued for motor bikes.

Article (178), lighting systems

  • Normal bikes must be equipped with a main lamp, a red lamp and a red reflector in the back.

Article (191), list of violations and penalties

  • [No penalty information given for not wearing helmet on bicycle] 46, Non-wearing helmet when driving motorbike, AED 200.

Fines for illegal transportation of bicycles in Abu Dhabi

  • 30 Dec 2015: A press release from the Abu Dhabi Police Traffic Department announced that drivers who fail to safely attach their bicycles will be fined AED 200 and have their vehicle impounded for one week, as per Article 80 of the Traffic Code. It wasn't clear from the press release if the vehicle to be impounded would be the bicycle or car or both.
  • In the same report, Colonel Mohammad Dahi, Chief of the Traffic Investigation Section, said (among other things)
    • cyclists should refrain from bicycling side by side on the road.
    • motorists should use bike racks to transport their bicycles. And that "... transporting the bike inside the vehicle may block the driver’s view out of rear windows, ultimately posing a risk to the driver and other road users." So if you have your bike inside your car in Abu Dhabi and get a warning or a fine from the police, now you know why.
    • to ride their bikes in places where riding bikes is allowed, such as parks or public gardens. Which doesn't make sense since Abu Dhabi started enforcing a ban on cycle riding in parks from Sep 2008.
  • Reference: https://www.adpolice.gov.ae/en/media.centre/news/3460735.aspx

Bicycles impounded in Dubai

Sometimes the Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality, and/or maybe the Dubai RTA (or maybe not, we're not sure about the RTA) go on a mission to impound bicycles in Dubai belonging to people breaking cycling laws in Dubai. Police, municipalities, and traffic authorities do this in other emirates also. Don't let it put you off cycling around the place too much, but keep a bit of cash handy to catch the bus just in case. As time goes on and cycling becomes more prevalent in Dubai, you can expect a decreasing risk of police and other authorities impounding your bike or giving you a fine for odd sounding reasons.

  • 31 March 2010 - Gulf News reported that over 1,000 bicycles were impounded during March 2010 by Dubai Police. The bikes were reportedly not being returned to their owners. One cyclist (subsequently a pedestrian) was reported as saying "I was crossing the road from the pedestrian crossing when a man in plain clothes stopped me and confiscated my cycle saying that it is not allowed to cycle in Dubai." The report said the campaign was launched this month to confiscate bicycles ridden on main roads especially from people riding bicycles in the opposite direction of the traffic. The campaign is mainly concentrated in Khaled Bin Waleed road, Al Mankhool, and Al Mina road, and quoted Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of the General Department of Traffic at Dubai Police as saying "We have witnessed many violations in these areas where people ride their bikes without taking into consideration safety regulations such as jumping a red light or recklessly taking a U-turn. ... I do appreciate riding bicycles as it is a good alternative to driving cars but it's only for certain areas."

Bicycle licence fee

  • According to news reports in October 2010, there were rumours of an annual Cycle Licence Fee of AED 400 being introduced (which, bizzarely, is higher than Dubai car registration fees or Dubai driving licence fees). Unknown how accurate the rumours are. Or, as of October 2011 ... 2012 ... 2103 ... 2014 ... 2105 ..., what happened to the proposed fee - so far there isn't any that we've heard of.

Cycling ban in Sharjah

  • 03 Sep 2013: Emirates 24-7 reported that an unamed Sharjah Police official confirmed that there is no ban on cyclists in Sharjah. However if cyclists violate the laws about loading, helmet wearing, direction of travel, etc, then the official said "The cycles are confiscated or fines are levied if they are found to disrespect the rules." The newspaper also posted a video showing examples of illegal and disrespectful cyclist behaviour, although it was a bit hard to see amongst all the illegal and disrespectful behaviour of pedestrians, car drivers, and truck drivers.
  • 27 Jan 2013: Sounds like the cycling ban in Sharjah has been revised [when?]. Emirates 24-7 reported that Cyclists were allowed to come on the roads only after wearing helmets and other safety items; but those who were not wearing these items and meeting other safety requirements had their bicycles confiscated. The same report also said Sharjah Municipality has banned use of bicycles for commuting and transporting waste papers and card boards.
  • A general ban on cycling in Sharjah emirate was announced in March 2006, depending on what bicycles were being used for, according to a Gulf News report 26 Mar 2006, which said Cyclists using their bicycles as a means of transporting cardboard and waste paper for sale have been banned ...
    Bicycles used for commuting will be banned next month ... Police sources stressed police will not seize bicycles from children and those used for leisure and sport
    . Abdullah Al Ameri, Director-General of Sharjah Municipality was reported as saying "Sharjah's infrastructure is unsuitable for bicycles. The municipality is studying future arrangements with the Public Works Section to develop new areas for bicycles, such as Ajman corniche."

Cycling bans in Dubai

Apart from a general ban on main roads and highways, some specific areas which have banned cycling are:

  • City Walk bans cycles (walking or riding them) from the footpath and around the shops. There are bicycle parking areas in the car park. Pets are also banned from the area.
  • Dubai Water Canal Boardwalk: cycling not permitted, but as of end 2016 seems to be tolerated. The arch shaped pedestrian bridge has a cycle lane marked on it, but no obvious cycle path connection at either end of the bridge. Boardwalk section through Business Bay after Sheikh Zayed Rd not clear if cycling officially allowed or not, but is tolerated so far. There are cycle paths in the canal area but not along the canal, a bit of searching needed to find them.
  • Nadd Al Sheba area in Dubai, from end of 2008 until early 2009? Ban is not in effect as of 2010-2011.

Cycling bans in Abu Dhabi and other UAE locations

  • Abu Dhabi Parks - Abdul Aziz Al Jeraishi, Director of Parks and Recreational Facilities Division at Abu Dhabi Municipality, was reported as saying "The blanket ban on bicycles was already there, but we have started to enforce it from now on," according to the Gulf News 15 Sep 2008.
Last update Wednesday 21-Dec-2016
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