x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cyclists should stick to biking tracks, UAE clubs urge

Specially constructed lanes at Nad al Sheba and Al Qudra Road as well as open nights at Dubai Autodrome and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit are the safest place for cyclists looking to avoid jostling for road space with cars and trucks.

DUBAI // Cyclists should use purpose-built, off-road tracks and paths instead of putting themselves at risk on the roads, say bike clubs.

Specially constructed lanes at Nad Al Sheba and Al Qudra Road as well as open nights at Dubai Autodrome and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit are the safest place for cyclists looking to avoid jostling for road space with cars and lorries.

“The road is meant for cars. The city isn’t designed around cyclists,” said Sam Sayadan, from the Cycle Hub, Dubai. “It’s our responsibility as cyclists to protect ourselves from cars.”

The death of triathlete Roy Nasr on September 6 and the recent accident involving cyclist Medhi Karasane shows the dangers of sharing the roads with motorists who are not used to seeing bikes.

Despite people’s best efforts, Mr Sayadan said it would be difficult to change the attitude of almost every motorist to be extra cautious of cyclists.

“It’s going to take a massive movement to do that. Probably a much bigger movement than it would take to get the cyclists to do something different in the first place,” he said.

Nasr died after being hit by a drunk driver as he was cycling with friends near Safa Park.

Mr Karasane, also a triathlete, suffered serious head injuries after being struck by a car on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai road on Saturday morning.

“Since the tragic accident with Roy, a lot more people are looking for alternative places to cycle,” said Stewart Howison, the founder of Cycle Safe Dubai and owner of Revolution Cycles.

“One of the biggest things that has come out of all of these cycling accidents on the road is that people are now more aware of the fact it is dangerous to ride on the road, and they’re taking a lot more care in where they’re going to ride.”

Mr Howison’s group meets every Friday morning at the Al Qudra cycle track, which has two lanes that stretch out into the desert away from main roads.

The first lane runs for 18km, while the second is 50km and passes close to the Bab Al Shams hotel.

“We used to find that on a weekday morning, where there was only a handful of cars parked there, there’s now 30 to 40 cars every day,” added Mr Howison.

“People are migrating to safer environments to go cycling.”

Stephan Hayes, assistant manager of the Trek Bicycle Store on Al Qudra Road, said there had definitely been a rise in interest recently.

“Technically it’s one of the only safe places in Dubai you can ride,” he said. “A lot of people are gravitating toward safer riding.”

The Nad Al Sheba bike track has the choice of an 8km, 6km or 4km loop, the Yas Marina circuit is open to cyclists on Tuesday nights, while the Dubai Autodrome is open on Wednesday nights.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s great to have those options,” said Mr Sayadan.

mcroucher@thenational.ae