OPN 200818 NAT Cycling
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Whether you are a hardcore cycling enthusiast or just like to ride for leisure, the UAE’s cycling community is bustling and growing.

Not only does the country attract the best cyclists in the world in the form of the UAE tour, a road cycling stage race, the country has also been pushing ahead with making most areas accessible to riders, whether they cycle for leisure or work.

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Earlier this month, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, announced plans to transform Dubai into a bicycle-friendly city. According to Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) the overall bicycle tracks across Dubai will extend to 647km by 2025.

So, if you are excited to pedal your way around the Emirates, here is all you need to know.

The UAE Cycling Federation

The UAE Cycling Federation is the governing body of cycling in the UAE and organises regular cycling events, including the annual UAE Road Cycling Championship.

The laws

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid
An Instagram photo shared by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

While you do not require a licence to ride a cycle, it is important to be aware of the laws surrounding riding in the UAE.

The UAE applies Federal Traffic Law No. 21 of 1995, as amended by Federal Law No. 12 of 2007 and the related executive regulations and ministerial resolutions in all aspects concerning traffic controls and violations in UAE.

Specifically related to bicycles, these are some of the articles that you should be aware of.

According to Article 35, ordinary bikes should be equipped with a main headlight, a red rear light and a reflector in the rear.

Article 16 provides the following guidelines for traffic movement:

Cyclists shall stick to the right side of the road and they are prohibited to drive their bicycles on pavements. In case a special track for bicycles is available, they shall stick to using same, and will not leave it unless it is necessary to do so.

Cyclists shall drive their bicycles in one single file, one after the another, and they are prohibited to seek the assistance of motor vehicles to drag or pull their bicycles, or transport people unless the bicycles is fitted for that purpose.

Cyclists shall also wear protective helmets on their heads.

Article 17

Cyclists are prohibited to drive their bicycles without holding the steering rod, or while holding it with only one hand except when giving a hand signal. They may not drive same in a zigzagging manner, nor may they use excessive speed, or in any other manner which may result in endangering the public.

What you need to get started

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File photo used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Cycle shops have popped up across the UAE to meet the growing demand for cycling. While there is an endless variety of cycling gear you can choose from, these are the basics you should get:

1. Cycle

2. Helmet – these, as like any other

3. Reflective vest

Helmets and high-visibility jackets are mandatory as per UAE law.

The cost of cycles and helmets can vary significantly, with a basic one costing as low as Dh500 and high-end road bikes costing over Dh100,000. If you are going for a more expensive option, getting a cycle insurance is recommended. Bicycle shops offer lifetime warranties on frames for bicycles above a certain price limit and content insurance or personal belongings insurance is also available from insurance companies across the UAE.

Similarly, helmets can also be cost-effective or premium. Speak to your bicycle shop to find out which option would be most suitable for your use and will provide the necessary protection, in case of accidents.

Apart from these essentials, bike shops across the UAE provide bike racks (to transport bikes, apparel and accessories that you can select based on your preference and interest.

Bike sharing and bike renting

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Careem Bike in Karama at the ADCB Metro Station, Dubai. Photo: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Bike rentals have also gained popularity over the years in the UAE, with many private companies offering bike rental services. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) tied up with Careem to offer Careem BIKE, which is a bike-sharing service. You can have a one-year membership (Dh420), or go for shorter commitments like a one-month (Dh75) or one-week contract (Dh50). If you only need to rent a bike for a day, you can do that, too for Dh20.

Once you register, you will receive a code on your registered number via SMS, which you can enter into any of the bicycles at the stations around the UAE.

Bike station locations:

Jumeirah Lake Towers

Dubai Marina

Dubai Media City

The Greens

Jumeirah

Dubai Water Canal

Downtown

Mankhool

Karama

Al Qudra

Users have to create and log in with a Careem account and choose a yearly, monthly, weekly or daily membership plan.

There are four membership options, which can be availed through card payment, to choose from.

The annual membership is for Dh420, monthly for Dh75, weekly for Dh50 and daily for Dh20.

A rider can take as many 45-minute trips as needed while the membership is active.

An extension fare of Dh10 for every additional 30 minutes applies when the rider extends the trip beyond 45 minutes a day. A trip ends when the bike is docked.

Also, most major cycle tracks across the UAE have bike rental shops, which allow enthusiasts to rent a bike for a short ride.

Cycling on UAE roads

In the UAE, you can only ride on roads with a maximum speed limit of 40km/h, except if it has a dedicated cycling track, like Jumeirah Beach Road.

Also read

Cyclists found riding on roads with speed limits of 60km/h or greater can face a fine of Dh600, according to Dubai Police.

Dubai has also introduced road signs and lane-markings, directing cyclists and motorists on where the two-wheeled commuters can navigate safely.

The sign posts and markings on the roads show where cycling is and isn’t allowed, the speed limit of the road and the direction of allowed movement. Also, should cyclists want to cross a road safely where cycling isn’t allowed, they can cross the road while walking with their cycle at clearly marked designated points.

Cycling tracks across the UAE

Dubai cycle tracks

• Seih Al-Salam

More popularly known as the Al Qudra Cycle track, this is an 86km cycle track taking riders through the Al Qudra desert. The path is equipped with resting stations along the way that offer benches and shade. You will also find restrooms located where Bab Al Shams Road meets Al Qudra, according to visitdubai.com. Just make sure to plan ahead as this area has few taxis. The track also has a bike rental facility, in case you are looking for a one-off ride.

Also read

Location

• Mushrif Track

The 32km circuit is located within Mushrif Park, which gives families the perfect chance to enjoy cycling while also being in close proximity to facilities like restrooms, cafés and restaurants.

Location

• Khawaneej Track

The Khawaneej track is a circuit around the newly opened Quranic Park, situated close to Last Exit. The proximity to a park and residential areas makes it a safe place for families to enjoy a ride together.

Location

• Warqa Track

A relatively shorter circuit, at 3.5km, the Warqa jogging and cycle track is ideal for residents in the area.

Location

• Meydan Track

The track in Nad Al Sheba is a converted camel track, located near Meydan racecourse, which offers brilliant views of Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa. There are three different loops - 4km, 6km and 8km - plus lockers, air-conditioned changing rooms and shower facilities. The course is even lit for night riding. If you want to bring along the kids, there’s a children’s course, complete with street signs, speed bumps and roundabouts to teach young riders about bicycle and road safety.

Location

• Jumeirah Road

The track runs along one of the liveliest roads in Dubai – the Jumeirah Beach Road, connecting cyclists from the Jaffliyah area all the way down to Madinat Jumeirah.

Dubai Autodrome

The Dubai Autodrome opens up every Wednesday evening to all cycling enthusiasts, with its 2.5km track.

Location

• District One

The jogging and cyling track at District One, near Meydan is an 8.4km loop at Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City - District One.

Location

Abu Dhabi cycle tracks

Yas Marina Circuit

The Formula 1 circuit converts into a jogging and cycling track two days a week – Sundays and Tuesdays. The track is 5.5km long and entry is free. It is recommended to register online in advance at yasmarinacircuit.com

Al Hudayriat Island

The island has two loops – 5km and 10km, with the added perk of having a view of the coastline at all times.

The track also has other facilities like changing rooms, vending machines and a bike rental shop.

Location

Al Wathba

Situated out of city limits, this is a race track which offers loops for cyclists of all skills levels, from an 8km track to a 96km one. While it is far away from the city, there is a petrol station nearby, as well as basic facilities at the track like restrooms, cafes and a bike store.

Location

You can also cycle in parks that have dediated cycle tracks across the UAE.

Safety Rules

These are some of the safety guidelines provided by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority for bicycle riders:

• Wear suitable helmet even when riding in short distances.

• Wear sun glasses during the morning.

• Wear reflective cloths so other drivers can identify cyclists at night.

• Stay alert and pay attention to everything on the road.

• Better not to ride a bike at night.

• Do not do acrobatic movements or show skills while riding.

• Ride as near to the right hand curb as possible in the same direction as the cars are going.

• Keep both feet on the pedals.

• If you are riding with others, ride in a single file.

• Obey all traffic signs and signals.

• If there is a cyclist track present, use that.

• Be a courteous bike rider.

• Get off your bike and walk, across busy corners.

• Ride as near to the right hand curb as possible in the same direction as the cars are going.

• Keep both feet on the pedals.

• If you are riding with others, ride in a single file.

• Obey all traffic signs and signals.

Fines you should be aware of

Also read

Dh200 fine - for riding bikes on jogging and walking tracks.

Dh300 fine - for riding your cycle in an undesignated lane.

Dh300 fine – for riding your bicycle in such a way that puts the rider or other people's lives at risk.

https://gulfnews.com/uae/abu-dhabi-police-warns-cyclists-against-breaking-rules-1.66993016