DUBAI // Speedy service may mean more tips but safety experts are urging motorcycle delivery riders in the city to ride with caution, be patient and wear protective gear.
Twenty-six people died in motorbike accidents in 2015 and 2016, according to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority. Last year, motorbike riders were involved in 824 traffic offences and 786 bikes were seized.
“A rider is not going to make the delivery any quicker by riding one inch from the vehicle in front than they would if they kept a clear three-second gap,” said Brian Cartwright, founder of Ride Safe UAE. “Riding like this is totally pointless, yet also completely reckless.”
New rules to standardise technical specifications for delivery motorbikes in Dubai come into effect from June 6.
Pillion passengers are barred on delivery motorbikes and sharp edges must be replaced with rounded ones. Users of already licensed motorbikes will have until March next year to complete the needed upgrades.
Employers and riders need to address is the lack of education and awareness of the dangers arising from not following correct safe riding principles, he said.
“Riding dangerously close to the vehicle in front, riding too fast for the road conditions, and entering a corner too fast and having to brake mid-corner often lead to riders losing control and crashing,” Mr Cartwright said.
“What is needed is detailed education and advice delivered by experts, followed by constant reinforcement of safe riding practice.”
Employers must stop pushing their couriers or food deliverers to drive too fast to meet delivery time targets, said Robert Hodges, a UK-based driver education and road safety expert.
“Riders tend to swerve between different lanes, make illegal u-turns, cut over pedestrian walkways and dodge through tight gaps at traffic lights,” he said.
“Any driver who is forced to drive too fast will be concentrating on getting there and back as soon as possible, rather than riding sensibly.”
Poor speed control is a major contributor to the majority of motorcycle accidents, according to Mr Cartwright, a former UK Driving Standards Agency instructor with more than 20 years motorcycling experience.
“Another major red flag is riding unpredictably and weaving in and out of traffic at high speed,” he said.
Freedom Pizza, which employs 125 delivery riders, is working with Ride Safe UAE to train and certify all its 125 delivery drivers.
The group conducts delivery rider safety awareness workshops that focus on safe riding advice. Riders are also being encouraged to think about the effects of losing their income due to injury or worse, losing their life because of their own reckless driving.
“For the majority of delivery riders, any loss of earnings tends to have a major effect on families in their home countries as they are often the main income provider,” said Mr Cartwright.
In addition to mandatory training, employers should properly equip their riders with safety equipment, and ensure their bikes are always properly maintained, said Ian Ohan, Freedom Pizza’s founder and chief executive.
“The cost of the equipment, while material, is a small price to pay for the personal safety of any employee,” Mr Ohan said.
“The new regulations will ensure what should be common sense about the physical design of the delivery boxes. This is important but much more needs to be done.”
Mr Hodges agreed, saying the new rules could be improved further to enhance rider safety.
“The law should also mandate that all motorcycles are fitted with knee protector bars to protect the rider’s legs in an impact,” he said.
“These bars prevent the rider being trapped under a motorcycle, which will be very hot and may be dripping petrol.”
Under the new rules, phosphoric reflector strips must be attached to the bike, according to dimensions specified by the RTA.
“The reflector strips are a good idea, but must be enhanced,” Mr Hodges said.
“For instance, the law should also stipulate that the boxes are mounted on the motorcycle as low as possible to improve stability and reduce the risk of the rider toppling over when cornering.”