By Sahar Moussa and Ahmad Jabr

KUWAIT: Cyclists in Kuwait are again appealing to the government for dedicated bike lanes as a new accident on Friday left several people injured, including one person in coma.

Around 15 people were hurt following the hit-and-run accident that happened on Arabian Gulf Road Friday morning. The victims were among a group of around 60 people who usually practice the sport weekly.

"We were cycling as usual when a car driving recklessly hit us from behind," Darius Lumocso, 50, told Kuwait Times from his bed at Mubarak Hospital. He is among four people who were taken to Mubarak Hospital, while seven others were rushed to Amiri Hospital including two in critical condition. One of them is recovering from emergency surgery after sustaining fractured ribs and punctured lungs in the accident. The other person remains in coma in the ICU.

The Health Ministry said later in the evening that nine out of 11 people injured in the incident have been discharged from hospital after receiving necessary medical care. Two persons remain in Amiri Hospital, including one in the ICU and the other in the surgery department, Health Ministry Spokesman Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad said.

Eyewitnesses reported two young people were in the car that was driving recklessly before it hit the group around 4:30 am. "The kids were driving recklessly. It was as if they were playing," Lumocso said. He explained that the two people in the car looked 'very young', adding that they fled the scene immediately after the accident happened.

Several eyewitness reports confirmed that the suspects escaped following the accident. According to Lumocso, the suspects were later identified and held by police at Maidan Hawally police station for questioning. Kuwait Times' attempts to contact police officials for a statement were not immediately returned.

The Interior Ministry released a statement late afternoon confirming that the accident had happened and saying that search was still ongoing for the culprit. It noted that the biker group had not obtained prior permission from authorities to organize the function.

The ministry later released a statement in the evening saying that the driver who has caused the accident has turned themselves in to police and is being held in custody for further legal procedures.


Unsafe conditions

Lumocso was cycling with Bike Group Kuwait, a group of around 60 cyclists who are mostly from the Philippines. Cyclists from India had also joined the group on the day of the accident. Lumocso is an avid biker who practices the hobby on an average of four times a week. The group usually organizes a weekly gathering to practice the sport on Gulf Road every Friday at dawn to avoid traffic.

However, Lumocso says that reckless driving behavior is too common for them to feel safe even cycling at the early hours of the morning. "We want support from the government (to provide) bike lanes," he told Kuwait Times. "There are no bike lanes in Kuwait. There are several, multinational bike groups in the country, and all of them are making the same appeal to the government to provide safe bike lanes."

Bicycle accidents are very common in Kuwait as the country lacks the proper infrastructure to provide safe cycling such as bike lanes or bicycle tracks. In 2021, Kuwait banned cycling on Jaber Causeway, a popular destination for bikers in the country, after an accident left one biker dead and another injured.

"The lack of bicycle lanes in Kuwait poses a big challenge for us as cyclists, besides the lack of people’s awareness about cyclists’ safety and security," Batoul Al-Abdullah, a cyclist who is a member of bike mate team, told Kuwait Times last week. "This puts us at high risk of accidents and danger.”

Municipal Council member Fahad Al-Abduljader called authorities to speed up the process of allocating bicycle lanes in Kuwait which could help prevent similar accidents.

He said the interior ministry, public works ministry and Kuwait Municipality have a shared responsibility to implement the bicycle lanes which have been approved by the Municipal Council. "We cannot stay silent when people's safety is on the line," he added in a statement Friday.