Cycling and bicycles in Dubai and UAE
Cycling in Dubai and UAE, bicycle and cycle information, cycle paths and roads, bicycle shops, clubs, activities, races, cycle runs, wadis, mountain bikes.
- Cycling in Dubai is not for the faint of heart. On the main roads especially, car drivers can be rather negligent or aggressive (take your pick) towards cyclists.
- Early Friday morning is quieter on Dubai roads as it's the weekly day of rest for most residents.
- Late at night (from about 2300 to 0400 or so) there is less traffic on the roads, but more lunatics driving at very high speeds. Watch out.
- In the summer (July-September), the weather is insanely hot during the day (40-50 Celcius), and almost as hot at night (35-40 Celcius). Humidity is often very high also. Drink plenty of water if you do cycle, and avoid cycling during the day unless you have a good reason to.
- Cycling is not allowed on major highways and motorways. There are no cycle paths on them.
- Cycling between emirates is possible but illegal if you're on a motorway, and scary anyway. Nevertheless, it has been done, and some cyclists have even survived the journey. It's a lottery as to whether or not police will stop you and what they will say or do.
- One of the first cyclists in Dubai was Jack Briggs OBE (died 26 July 2006 in the UK - while riding his bike) who lived in Dubai in the 1960s and 1970s as commander of Dubai Police
Cycle laws and safety in Dubai and UAE
UAE Federal Law No. 21 of 1995, and Ministerial Order No. 130 of 1997 cover the use of bicycles in the UAE. Article 16 of the law says that cyclists should ride on the right of the road, should not ride on the footpath, should use cycle tracks where available, and are not permitted to ride on main roads. As with many laws in the UAE, interpretation can be variable, enforcement can be non-existent or sporadic, and laws are sometimes confusing or seemingly contradictory anyway.
- Helmets are compulsory as far as we know, but you often see people using them to protect the bicycle handlebars instead of their heads.
- Cycling on footpaths is apparently not permitted but is safer than cycling on main roads (and cycling on main roads is not permitted anyway - see below). Cycling on the pavement/sidewalk/footpath seems to be tolerated by police (most of the time).
- Update 29 Aug 2012 - Emirates 24-7 reported that Cyclists on footpaths designated for walking only will be fined. The fine amount was not specified. The report also said Colonel Abdullah Sorour, Director, Naif Police Station, said people cycling and riding motorcycles in wrong lanes, thereby risking their lives as well as others, will also be fined. But it wasn't clear what was meant by "wrong lanes".
- Gulf News on 31 March 2010 reported that Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of the General Department of Traffic at Dubai Police, said that riding bicycles is not permitted on most of the roads with speed limit 60km/hr with a few exceptions such as Jumeirah Road which has cycling track.
- Front and rear lights are required at night (we think).
- A reflective vest seems to have become required in 2010 or 2011, but if the rule is enforced, it seems to be more targeted towards the working class cyclists.
- Carrying some sort of ID when cycling is recommended (everyone is probably required to carry ID at all times in the UAE anyway). There was a case in late 2011 when a cyclist was run down and left in a hospital unidentified for a day or so.
- It is common to see cyclists riding the wrong way on roads in Dubai. Usually the cyclists are working class residents, perhaps from countries where this is common. It is not legal as far as we know (but police don't seem to worry about it), although we do understand the principle of facing the enemy.
- Cycle theft is not common (Dubai is relatively safe in general terms anyway) but if you don't have a lock for your bike when you leave it parked in public, don't expect it to stay put.
Bicycles impounded in Dubai
Sometimes the Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality, and/or maybe the Dubai RTA (or maybe not, we're not sure about the RTA) go on a mission to impound bicycles in Dubai belonging to people breaking cycling laws in Dubai. Police, municipalities, and traffic authorities do this in other emirates also. Don't let it put you off cycling around the place too much, but keep a bit of cash handy to catch the bus just in case.
- 31 March 2010 - Gulf News reported that over 1,000 bicycles were impounded during March 2010 by Dubai Police. The bikes were reportedly not being returned to their owners. One cyclist (subsequently a pedestrian) was reported as saying "I was crossing the road from the pedestrian crossing when a man in plain clothes stopped me and confiscated my cycle saying that it is not allowed to cycle in Dubai." The report said the campaign was launched this month to confiscate bicycles ridden on main roads especially from people riding bicycles in the opposite direction of the traffic.
The campaign is mainly concentrated in Khaled Bin Waleed road, Al Mankhool, and Al Mina road, and quoted Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of the General Department of Traffic at Dubai Police as saying "We have witnessed many violations in these areas where people ride their bikes without taking into consideration safety regulations such as jumping a red light or recklessly taking a U-turn. ... I do appreciate riding bicycles as it is a good alternative to driving cars but it's only for certain areas."
Bicycle licence fee
- According to news reports in October 2010, there were rumours of an annual Cycle Licence Fee of AED 400 being introduced (which, bizzarely, is higher than Dubai car registration fees or Dubai driving licence fees). Unknown how accurate the rumours are (or, as of October 2011, what happened to the proposed fee - so far there isn't any as far as we know).
Bicycle Paths in Dubai
- Al Barsha Pond Park, Al Barsha - small cycle track around the pond, also bicycle rental available inside the park.
- Al Rigga Street in Deira has a short marked bicycle path near the Al Rigga Metro Station?
- Arabian Ranches to Bab Al Shams cycle path - construction started February 2012, completion date expected to be end of June 2012. Total length about 45-50 km. Construction cost about AED 19 million. Starts near Arabian Ranches and the Dubai Bypass Road - first roundabout after the Bypass Road bridge, along Al Qudra Road, then to Bab Al Shams resort, or something. Press release 21 April 2012 quoted Mattar Al Tayer, head of the RTA, as saying "The first cycling track stretches 18 km and runs besides the northern part of Al Qudra Road. It starts off the first R/A following the bridge over the Dubai Bypass Road and extends up to the R/A on the intersection of Bab Al Shams Road and Al Qudrah Roads; where it joins with the second track to ensure continuity for the enthusiasts of long-distance cycling sport. The second track stretches about 27 km and starts off the front of Bab Al Shams Hotel and runs till the R/A at Al Qudrah Road, before it moves southward along the road leading to Seih Al Daha."
- Jumeirah Beach Road (beach side) cycle path which was installed as part of the Jumeirah Beach Road upgrade during 2005 and 2006. The path runs sort of from Open Beach (opposite the Jumeirah Mosque) to the beach just before Jumeirah Beach Hotel - about 15-20 km length. It's all on the footpath, not the road. Watch out for pedestrians, bus stops, sign posts, badly parked cars, tea and shawarma shops delivering goodies to badly parked car occupants. Update 21 April 2012 - cycle path extended to Al Mankhool Rd according to an RTA press release which quoted Mattar Al Tayer, head of the RTA, as saying "Construction works have been completed in the initial phase of the cycling tracks running 24 km; which included completing the cycling tracks at Jumeirah Street and Street No 7 intersecting with Jumeirah Street and linking Al Mankhool Street in a sector extending 8.6 km."
- Mall of the Emirates metro station - a 1.5 km bicycle track under construction in 2012, might be completed by June 2012 (reported 21 April 2012).
- Meydan City - see Meydan Cycle Park (below).
- Open Beach in Jumeirah (opposite the Jumeirah Mosque) has a 1.5-2km cycle path and jogging track. Bicycle rental is available.
Nad Al Sheba - Meydan Cycle Park
- 25 Aug 2012 update - the cycle park opened in August 2012? Signposted from the Meydan Road, free car parking, free to use (so far). Bring drinking water with you. Open 24 hrs? Tracks have lighting at night. Cycle shop planned (unknown if open or what the opening hours are). No cycle rental as far as we know.
- Cycle Safe Dubai and Revolution Cycles have been working with the Dubai Ruler's Office to develop the Meydan Cycle park where the camel race track was in Meydan City (Nad Al Sheba) area. Construction timeline and opening date not supplied.
- Bicycle and running tracks planned include: 3 cycling tracks (4 km, 6 km, 8 km) that can also be used for running and jogging, a separate children's cycle track (850 meters length) with RTA road signs for education, a BMX track (350 meters), cross country running tracks (3km and 7km long).
- Other facilities include a children's playground.
- Tracks will (or might) be lit at night (timings not supplied).
RTA cycle path plans - RTA Bicycle Master Plan for Dubai (2009)
- The Roads and Transport Authority Dubai (RTA) was planning to start developing
a bicycle path network in Dubai from 2008. Then in May 2009 (repeated in November 2009), there were reports that the RTA planned to build 900km of cycle paths in Dubai between then and 2019 or 2020.
- Stage I of the Dubai bicycle network according to May 2009 report was to extend the already existing Jumeirah Beach Road cycle path to the Burj Al Arab and to Dubai Creek. And another path would be extended from Al Mamzar Park to Dubai Creek on the Deira side of Dubai. Called the Gulf Coast Trail and completion scheduled for mid-2010 (update October 2011 - no evidence of any construction work having started yet).
- Stage I according to November 2009 report would include bicycle paths
built in the areas around
Jumeirah, both sides of Dubai Creek, the Deira Corniche (Al Khaleej Beach),
and either Academic City or Knowledge
Village , or both.
- Stage II would include bike paths along Dubai Creek and nearby areas in Deira and Bur Dubai, another one towards Jebel Ali (if from Burj Al Arab, that's a long way), and cycle lanes along the Dubai Metro on Sheikh Zayed Road.
- Stage III would include cycle paths in areas and suburbs near the Emirates Road and Al Hibab Road, and a route around the Palm Jebel Ali development.
- Other reports have mentioned the following roads as due to get cycle paths in the near future (which might mean one day ... or never) - Al Diyafah Street, Al Mankhool Road, Al Mina Road, Al Seef Road (Dubai Creek - Bur Dubai side), Khalid Bin Waleed Street, Shaikh Zayed Road (service lanes).
Other places to cycle in Dubai
- Dubai Autodrome has cycle nights on the race track circuit on Wednesdays from 1800-2100. Just turn up and cycle. Once you get off the Motor City exit from the Arabian Ranches interchange, drive past the Autodrome on your right, then turn right and follow the road around to the back entrance where you can drive in and park your car.
- Dubai Marina has a corniche all the way around, although at either end you have to walk up stairs to cross the bridge (there is a pedestrian path you can use) or cycle on the road. Bicycle rental is available.
- Freehold property communities in Dubai such as the Lakes, the Springs, the Meadows are attractive cycling areas. Road infrastructure is often more modern and cycle-friendly than other areas.
- Mushrif Park - the largest park in Dubai (and the only one which allows cycling inside the park area?). It even has a few hills ... or slight rises.
- Nad Al Sheba (Nadd Al Sheba) and Meydan area in Dubai is popular with cyclists. There are no cycle paths but the roads are relatively quiet. Cycling was banned there for a period of time at the end of 2008.
- Suburban streets are usually quite pleasant and (hopefully) safe. Watch out for car doors opening, and cars coming out of side roads or driveways though - they won't usually be looking out for bicycles.
Bicycle shops in Dubai
Most of the larger shopping malls in Dubai have a specialist bike shop, or large sports shop with a cycle section. The specialist bike shops also have bike repair and maintenance sections.
- Adventure Sports (?) in Times Square. Expensive bikes and gear.
- Decathlon in Mirdif City Center - good place to go if you want value for money bicycles and accessories.
- ProBike - in Al Barsha, Dubai
- Rage Bike Shop - several locations (Dubai Festival City, Oasis Center, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Mirdiff City Center, ...), specialist bike shop. Also a shop in Al Wahda Mall Abu Dhabi. Not cheap but good quality bike gear. Tel +971-4-3369007, email email@example.com, website www.rage-shop.com.
- Wolfi's Bike Shop - specialist bike shop on desert side of Sheikh Zayed Road between Time Square and Oasis Center shopping malls. Not the cheapest place to buy bicycle kit in Dubai, but good quality. Might be closed on Fridays? Telephone +971-4-3394453, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.wbs.ae.
Bicycle rental and cycle hire in Dubai
- Al Barsha Pond Park - bicycle rental available inside the park (presumably only for use on the small cycle track in the park).
- Dubai Marina - was near the Dubai end of the marina, but shifted to near the Dubai Marina Mall (which has free car parking ... as of 2011 at least). Another rental spot is under the bridge at the Jebel Ali end of Dubai Marina, on the JBR side.
- Open Beach in Jumeirah on the beach cycle path there. Opposite Jumeirah Mosque.
- Public beach next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, near Umm Suqeim Park.
- Jumeirah Beach Road, ENOC station near Umm Suqeim Park (but might not be open during summer). Update December 2012 - no longer in operation?
- Rage Bike Shop at Dubai Festival City?
- Wolfi's Bike Shop?
- The Adventure Store in Times Square shopping mall (on Sheikh Zayed Road)?
Bicycles and public transport in Dubai
- As far as we know, it is not permitted to take bicycles on buses or the Dubai Metro.
- Even crossing the Dubai Metro bridges along the Sheikh Zayed Road with a bicycle is probably not allowed (we tried once without a problem, but that was on a Friday morning before the metro started running, so we're not sure about during metro operating times).
- Bicycle stands are being installed at Dubai Metro stations during 2012. An Emirates 24-7 report on 13 March 2012 said The RTA had announced that by the end of the first quarter of this year it would have constructed as many as 3,000 bicycle parking spaces for Dubai Metro users to encourage cycling and to encourage an integrated and sustainable transport system.
- The same report also quoted Nasser Abu Shehab, director of Strategic Transport Planning at the Dubai RTA, as saying "RTA’s next phase of the Bicycle Master Plan includes providing bike tracks in areas closer to the Metro Red Line such as connecting the existing Jumeirah Beach Road to the nearby Red Line Metro stations on the Sheikh Zayed Road. ... At the moment all metro stations are designed for easy pedestrian and bicycle accesses within 500m radius." Which sounds much more bicycle-friendly than what it really is at the time of the report. Good luck, watch out for other vehicles who still think bicycles are an annoyance.
Cycle paths and areas in other UAE emirates
- Abu Dhabi Corniche has a cycle path?
- Yas Marina Circuit cycling (and jogging) training evenings on Tuesdays from 1800-2100. Cycles available for rent, AED 25 per hour. Check with Yas Marina or one of the cycling clubs in the UAE for more details.
Cycling bans in Dubai and the UAE
Apart from a general ban on main roads and highways, some specific areas which have banned cycling are:
- Nadd Al Sheba area in Dubai, from end of 2008 until early 2009? Ban is not in effect as of 2010-2011.
- Abu Dhabi Parks - Abdul Aziz Al Jeraishi, Director of Parks and Recreational Facilities Division at Abu Dhabi Municipality, was reported as saying "The blanket ban on bicycles was already there, but we have started to enforce it from now on," according to the Gulf News 15 September 2008.
- Sharjah - a general ban on cycling announced in March 2006, depending on what bicycles were being used for, according to a Gulf News report 26 March 2006, which said
Cyclists using their bicycles as a means of transporting cardboard and waste paper for sale have been banned ...
Bicycles used for commuting will be banned next month ... Police sources stressed police will not seize bicycles from children and those used for leisure and sport. Abdullah Al Ameri, Director-General of Sharjah Municipality was reported as saying "Sharjah's infrastructure is unsuitable for bicycles. The municipality is studying future arrangements with the Public Works Section to develop new areas for bicycles, such as Ajman corniche."
Cycling races and events in the UAE
Tour de Al Gharbia Cycle Race
- The WRDC Tour de Al Gharbia Cycle Race is an annual cycle race held in the Western Region of the UAE (Al Gharbiya), with the first race held in 2010.
- Sponsored by the Western Region Development Council (WRDC).
- 2012 event held on Thursday 16 February 2012 (register before 12 February 2012). Route is from Tarif towards Madinat Zayed City, distance 50 km. Entry is free and open to everyone. Start time 0930. Website at mzc.hct.ac.ae/tdag/
- 2011 WRDC Tour de Al Gharbia route from Madinat Zayed along the new road to Ghayathi. Distance 40 km.
- 2010 WRDC Tour de Al Gharbia event held on 18 February 2010. Route from Liwa to Madinat Zayed City. Distance 60 km.
Spinneys Coast to Coast Cycling Challenge
- Annual cycle ride (or race for some) from Dubai to Fujairah, about 180 km. Held in November? Sponsored/organised by Spinneys supermarket.
Cycling clubs in Dubai and UAE
- Cycle Safe Dubai
- Dubai Roadsters