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Saudi religious police lift ban on women on bicycles

By Katerina Nikolas     Apr 1, 2013 in World
Women in Saudi Arabia have been assured they can enjoy the spring air by riding bicycles, providing they adhere to modest dress codes and are in the presence of a male guardian.
A source with Saudi Arabia's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the nations religious police, has decreed it is acceptable for women in the Kingdom to take to their bicycles Al Yaum reported.
Even though the bicycle ban has been formally lifted the benign concession does not actually allow women to use bicycles as a mode of transport for getting around the country, as bicycle use is strictly limited to recreational purposes.
Furthermore, women may only ride a bicycle if in the presence of a male guardian, in case they should fall off their bicycles.
It goes without saying that women must of course remain modestly dressed in the all encompassing black abaya. They must also steer clear from areas where youths gather in case the youths cannot overcome their inclinations to molest women. Additionally they must keep away from protest groups, even though protests are against the law in Saudi Arabia.
Al Arabiya reported that Samia al-Bawardi, head of an NGO which deals with the victims of car accidents, warned women cyclists and female buggy drivers of the dangers of pedaling in the traditional dress. She said "Wearing abayas and erratic driving could result in terrible accidents.”
Some of those opposed to women driving cars in the Kingdom, a practice which remains banned, also use the argument that women would be a danger on the roads and would cause accidents, even though it is common to see young male children speeding through the towns.
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