Car commuters are increasingly seeking out alternatives to sitting in traffic. Anyone who has lost precious time stuck in the morning and evening rush hour will have mulled over an electric scooter or a bike at some point.
Fuel, long-term costs and environmental concerns are all valid reasons to avoid using a car, especially if your destination is just a few minutes away. But, less talked about are the adverse effects on your overall health. The innocuous act of driving away the better part of your day can take a toll on the body.
Health experts agree that better, more active ways of commuting should be considered. Ivana Banicevic, co-founder of the Dubai-based Health, Exercise and Research Centre (HERC) and the head of the research department at HERC, said: "Using a car as our main mode of travel can add to the overall time we spend sitting in a seated position, which is considered to be the worst position. It's like adding to our office hours. We see a big difference between people who use cars to get to work and those who use more active ways to commute - they end up living healthier lives."
She added: "Active ways of transportation can increase total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), helping you burn more calories than driving cars."
If you live in Dubai, you can take advantage of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)'s fitness initiative. They are helping commuters get active by creating a map of parks, gyms, football fields and tennis courts that are in close proximity to public transport stations.
Which alternative vehicle should I consider?
HERC's reports tell us that we're struggling to hit 5,000 steps in a day, when the ideal count sits at 10,000 steps. By walking or cycling to our destination, "we can burn that additional energy". If the supermarket is just around the corner, for instance, leave the car behind to make up for the lack of movement during the day.
Out of the many electric and manual micromobility vehicles, Banicevic highly recommends biking. The vote for bicycles, of course, comes second to walking. "Manual bikes are being run by you, mainly by your lower body that helps you change speeds, so the consumption of energy is a little bit higher [than electric-assist bikes]. They're great, but biking cannot substitute regular workout and sports activities," explained Banicevic.
As our expert puts it, the more manual your chosen alternative, the more calories you'll burn. This includes rollerskating as well, which expends more energy than biking but can be risky to ride. E-scooters and e-bikes, however, are practical options if you're travelling longer distances - just know that the fitness advantages are negligible here.
Given Dubai's many cycling and scooter lanes, having an alternative vehicle in your corner is all the more reasonable. Make sure to read up on all the safety regulations as stipulated by the Road and Transport Authority (RTA), especially if you'll be riding electric vehicles. Even e-bikes need a valid permit.
Here are some of the best-rated options for you from Amazon. Get a Prime membership for free, fast delivery.
1. Best Bike: ZiZZO Campo 20-inch Folding Bike
- Magnet catch keeps the bike folded for extra precaution
- Folds down in 30 seconds
- Seven speeds with a grip-style shifter
- All-terrain tyres
- Sturdy, durable and stable
- Seat doesn't have enough cushion
- No bell
Full-sized bikes can take on heavier and taller riders, but they take up a lot of space in the house. Folding bikes, instead, offer portability like e-scooters, with a folding stem, pedals and frame, so you have no problem tossing it into the trunk of the car, on the bus and wherever you go. Foldable bikes are also permitted on the Metro. The Campo bike by ZiZZO is fixed with 20-inch all-terrain tyres, a lightweight aluminium alloy stem and seven speeds. It only weighs 13kg and is surprisingly sturdy enough to support a maximum user load of 108kg and a height of 190cm. The ergonomic saddle is wide for a comfortable ride, though some riders in the reviews have had to add extra padding. According to buyers, the folding bike comes assembled, and they manage to fold and unfold quickly without issue. Users ride it to work and fold it down to store under their desk.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh105.85 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh86 and two years for Dh121.
2. Best Skates: Rollerblade Zetrablade Women's Adult Fitness Inline Skate
- Great support with high cuff and secure buckle
- Padded liner for comfort
- Beginner wheels that are meant to go at a moderate speed
- Offer a smooth ride
- Buckle strap can be shorter for some
Skating is the true definition of fitness on wheels. While it's restricted to certain urban spaces in Dubai, rollerskating in parks or along the beach can be a welcome break from walks. "Skating uses both legs, where you're switching from one to another, all the while requiring balance and coordination. There's a higher involvement of muscles in the legs," said Banicevic. To master the rough city terrains, you'll need a pair of inline wheels for easy maneouvering. Rollerblade's Zetrablade is just the pair for casual and novice skaters. It has four 80mm performance wheels for moderate speed that can be upgraded with experience. New skaters will feel more support thanks to the high cuff, padded liner and secure cuff buckle. Reviewers pick these up to switch up their cardio routine and find the wheels smooth. Even riders aged 50 and up confirm the support. Get Zetrablade in men's sizes here.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh53.50 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best E-Scooter: Ninebot Segway Max G30 KickScooter
- Excellent speed stability, up to 30kmph
- Long range of 65km per charge
- Wheels don’t puncture easily
- Three speed modes with a pedestrian mode for walking
- Charges in six hours
Without a doubt, e-scooters are the most popular form of micromobility in the UAE. They're fast, tireless, battery-operated and a fairly common sight among commuters. Our e-scooter repair expert spoke highly of the Ninebot Segway Max G30 model, making it our best overall of 2023. It features one of the longest ranges on an electric scooter, so you can cover 65km or multiple round trips to work, on a full charge. Pick from four speed modes depending on where you are, with the maximum sitting at 30km per hour. There are other perks to this electric-assisted ride, such as a colour LED display, Bluetooth connectivity and front and rear lights. And, of course, it collapses easily for storage, though due to a bigger battery, it's heavier than most at 18.7kg.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh212.50 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh171 and two years for Dh242.
4. Best Kick Scooter: GT-WHEEL Adult Kick Scooter
- Dual braking system with suspension wheels
- Strong frame with a height-adjustable stem
- Rubber wheels are less prone to puncture
- Light enough to carry
- Load capacity of 100kg
- No bell
A manual kick scooter is going to help you out more in the fitness department. You're engaging your lower muscles in the legs and your core to get to your destination. There are also fewer maintenance requirements with a motor-less vehicle - it's always at your disposable, whether charged or not. GT-WHEEL's model is a sturdy foldable kick scooter that supports up to 100kg of user weight. Much like an electric scooter, it folds down in three steps and locks for easy portability. You can adjust the stem according to your height as well. A double braking system composed of disc and rear brakes is in place to ensure a definite stop when needed. It even has dual wheel suspension so that you feel fewer vibrations on your ride. Do note that it does not have a bell.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and two years for Dh41.
5. Best E-Bike: Yadea YF100 Folding Electric Bike
- Foldable e-bike
- Safe speeds of 25km per hour
- Throttle with pedals
- Seven-speed gear
- Battery lasts up to 25km - reviewers say it goes on for longer
- Low load capacity of 80kg
Some might find e-scooters difficult to master. This is where an electric bike comes in with a motor, so rider "involvement is reduced". Banicevic tells us that while e-bikes may be great for skipping traffic, they're not as effective as manual bikes in terms of fitness. Therefore, if you're looking to go slow and steady, without any major effort on your part, then the Yadea YF100 is a great option. We love that it's foldable despite carrying a rear motor and a battery life of 25km. However, reviewers have gotten nearly double the battery range! They also add that it easily goes in and out of the Metro. The e-bike cruises at safe speeds of 25km per hour, and you can change seven gears within that range. More good news is that Yadea has a dedicated service centre in Dubai for any future hiccups.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh145.75 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh114 and two years for Dh162.
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