x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai's cycle lanes to expand by 50km every year as part of fitness push

Plans to extend bike lanes is part of a wider bid to get more people to take up regular physical activity.

The RTA plans to have 558km of cycle lanes in urban areas as part of a long-term strategy to create a network of bike routes across Dubai. Paulo Vecina / The National
The RTA plans to have 558km of cycle lanes in urban areas as part of a long-term strategy to create a network of bike routes across Dubai. Paulo Vecina / The National
DUBAI// The emirate's cycle network is to be expanded by up to 50 kilometres a year.
The plan is part of a push to get more residents to take up regular exercise.
The project is a collaboration between the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the municipality and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Nasser Al Rahma, director of community and private sector at the DSC, said the plan would be a beneficial addition to the city's wide range of sports facilities.
"The RTA plans to add 50km of cycle tracks in Dubai a year," he said, on the sidelines of the third Dubai International Physical Activity Forum on Tuesday.
"We have worked hard to open up things like sports clubs, pitches, and gyms for the use of the general public in the last five years."
Mr Al Rahma said 41.9 per cent of people in Dubai now take part in regular physical activity compared with 34.3 per cent in 2008, according to the latest figures.
"Our target is 45 per cent by 2015 and it's going to be tough to reach it because we have now pretty much established all our sporting infrastructure," he said.
The RTA plans to have 558km of cycle lanes in urban areas as part of a long-term strategy to create a network of bike routes across Dubai.
The first phase of the plan is 30km of lanes along Jumeirah Beach Road and 2nd December Street, said Nasser Abu Shehab, the RTA's director of strategic planning.
"These routes will also then be linked to Metro stations as a way of encouraging people to use bicycles for shorter journeys," he said.
"There is huge demand from people to have good bicycle lanes in the city so our next phase will be to develop this in Bur Dubai."
The third phase will see cycle lanes in residential areas in "new Dubai" such as Al Barsha, Mr Shehab added.
The Dubai Roadsters cycling group supports the plan.
"We welcome anything that makes it safer and easier to cycle around Dubai," a spokesman said.
"One thing that could also benefit people is to inform cyclists and drivers about staying aware when they see one another on the road."
He added that for safety, there should be separate cycle routes for commuters and for racing.
Cycling is growing in popularity in Dubai with facilities opening.
The 50km Dubai Cycling Course opened along Al Qudra Road in January, and last month a rent-a-bike service launched in Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina. In May last year Nad Al Sheba race track became the region's first cycle park.
Ahmed Abdulkarim, director of parks and horticulture at Dubai Municipality, told delegates at the forum that a decade ago many people found it difficult to maintain an exercise routine because facilities were often too far from residential areas.
"We have been conscious of this and have tried to make leisure areas close to where people live," he said.
Ahmed Saad Al Abdullah Al Sharif, the secretary general of Dubai Sports Council, told those attending the forum at the InterContinental hotel in Festival City that a special map featuring all of the leisure facilities in Dubai sold out its initial 10,000 run of copies.
The Physical Activity Forum ends today.
nhanif@thenational.ae