The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) of Dubai has conducted a study on the facilities available for cyclists in Dubai, in a move aimed at encouraging the use of cycles for short distance travel, and to contribute towards an integrated transportation system in the emirate. This study covered the provision of parking spaces for bicycles, ensuring the highest standards of safety for cyclists and regulating the use of bicycles.
A central business area in Deira was chosen for conducting the study as it represents a busy area with a significant number of cyclists. A team from RTA periodically visited the area at different times during the day to assess the problem.
“The study revealed several crucial aspects pertaining to cyclists, such as the crammed parking of bicycles adjacent to sign boards, lamp posts and trees, causing damage to the posts and also obstructing the view for other road users,” said Salem Al Shafei, Director of Strategic Planning for Transport.
“The haphazard parking of bicycles leads to narrowing down and sometimes complete blockage of sidewalks and pavements which hampers pedestrian movement, putting them at a greater risk of accidents and injuries. Moreover, the disorganised parking of bicycles also spoils the beauty of the city, especially when bicycles are parked in places that attract a large number of tourists such as The Gold Souk, Dubai Spice Souk, The Fish Market and the areas adjacent to the historical Al-Ahmadiya School, Dhow Wharfage, Shindagha area, Al Fahidi Fort Museum, Al Bastakia area and others,” added Al Shafei.
“The absence of sufficient parking spaces for bicycles results in their abandonment in places that obstruct public utilities and services, as some cyclists secure their bicycles to fire extinguishing water hoses, public benches, sidewalk railings and also locking them in spaces allotted for cars. Some cyclists also choose to park their cycles near dangerous areas such as electricity rooms and on either sides of the roads, endangering their lives and lives of others too,” he added.
The Roads & Transport Authority is now planning to devise ways to encourage malls, entertainment clubs, schools, colleges, hospitals and other companies in both the public and private sector to provide parking spaces for cyclists according to specified standards.
“The Authority will soon provide parking spaces for bicycles in the Souk areas in Deira and Bur Dubai after finalising aspects such as the required number of parking spaces, the appropriate localities for these spaces and suitable specifications. The specialised departments at the Authority will assess the viability of setting bicycle parking spaces near bus stations, metro stations and the existing and upcoming harbours to achieve the highest standard of integration of the transport system in Dubai. We will seek to devise a comprehensive plan for the development of the cycling network that will include laying cycling tracks, providing the requisite facilities and framing guidelines and legislations for the use of bicycles. As a first step, cycling tracks will be set in areas that have relatively greater cyclist population. These facilities and services will be the first of their kind in the GCC region,” said Al Shafei.
“The increasing traffic congestion in Dubai is due primarily to the dependency on private transportation, which accounts for 55.7 per cent of total conveyance, whereas public buses, private company buses and water ferries together account for a mere 26.6 per cent. The percentage of cyclists and pedestrians in high-income Asian cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo is about 28.5, in Western European cities such as London, Paris and Amsterdam it stands at 31.3 per cent, and in low-income Asian and African cities it is estimated at 32.4 per cent and 41.4 per cent respectively,” Al Shafei added.
“Preliminary surveys show that most of the nearly 100,000 bicycles are concentrated in the central business areas such as Deira and Bur Dubai as well as in labor camps in Al Qusais, Al Quoz, Ras Al Khor and other parts of the city. Most bicycles are used as a means of transportation while the remainder is used for purposes of exercise and entertainment. However, there are no official statistics that determine the number of bicycles as they are not legally registered like other transportation modes such as cars and motor bikes,” he concluded.
The increased use of bicycles can reduce the traffic congestion, especially in highly populated areas and busy commercial areas. It also presents an alternative affordable transportation means for the low income group. There is also a need to develop private facilities for bicycles that include developing cycling tracks, dedicated parking spaces and road signs and indications for cyclists. The Al Mamzar Corniche and Safa Park have facilities for cyclists that are meant for recreational purposes.