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News

Cyclists find way around Dubai law

On the highways and byways of Dubai's bustling Al Satwa district, cycle helmets are suddenly all the rage. Blue ones, silver ones, pink ones - even children's models garishly decorated with cartoon characters and perched ludicrously on the heads of grown men and, with chinstraps seldom done up, wobbling precariously as the men pedal their way about their business.

It is neither safety nor fashion that has prompted the mass adoption of headgear but economic necessity: 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 AED 500.

When Rica, a property maintenance worker, sets off down Mankhool Road on his bike on his way to a job, he does so wearing a yellow vest and a patently useless blue cycle helmet, rendered even less effective by the fact that Rica fixes the strap over the top of the helmet, instead of under his chin.

Enforcement is a "main road problem" according to Rica. In the warren of side roads, especially on hot days, the helmet goes in the basket, along with his tools.

Shopkeepers in the general trading stores, who are shifting cheap helmets as fast as they can ship them in from China, are positively delighted. At AED 20 (USD 5.4, EUR 4.2) a piece, the helmets might not be very strong, but they make a profit and allow the law to be observed.

Sat 4 Dec 2010

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