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Abu Dhabi roads too dangerous for cyclists, say residents

Jasmine Al Kuttab/Abu Dhabi
Filed on January 11, 2016 | Last updated on January 11, 2016 at 05.40 am
Abu Dhabi roads too dangerous for cyclists, say residents
The Abu Dhabi Corniche is a safer place to cycle compared to the main roads which are dangerous.

(Photo by Nezar Balout)

Abu Dhabi residents call for a change in the infrastructure on the roads.

A number of initiatives have been developed in the nation to promote health and wellbeing, the latest being Cycle to Work UAE, which will see thousands of UAE residents take part on Tuesday. However, many residents are calling for more lanes to be designated for cyclists, as they believe the roads are very dangerous to be used for cycling.

Abu Dhabi residents spoke to Khaleej Times about why they believe it's important to ditch the car for a bike, and why they are calling for a change in the infrastructure on the roads.

Doctor Samhar Salama said that he would love to commute more often by cycling, as it aids to a healthier lifestyle. "I enjoy cycling a lot, it's healthier for people to move around, plus, it helps us avoid traffic." However, the 47-year-old pointed out the lack of bike lanes on the roads makes him feel restricted and unsafe.

"I can only cycle on the Corniche, I can't do it anywhere else because the roads are dangerous for us cyclists."

"I hope to see more bike lanes around the city; it will help build a healthier environment and lifestyle for residents," he added.

George Mokbel, also believes that more lanes for cyclists are needed. "The drawback is that the infrastructure is not really cycle friendly, we need dedicated bike lanes, not only on the Corniche."

"I almost got killed last year cycling on the road. Motorists don't expect to see a cyclist on a highway," he added. The 29-year-old said that despite his recent near death experience, he hasn't stopped pursing his hobby. "I love cycling, I own a bike and a motorcycle and it feels like an adventure whenever I ride them."

"Here it's not like Europe - where people cycle to save fuel. People cycle in the UAE to stay fit, so I certainly hope roads will become more friendly and safe for cyclists in the near future."

Rami Hamdan said that since diabetes and obesity have become an epidemic in the region, there must be solutions that can help promote an active lifestyle to combat the deadly diseases.

"Cycle to Work UAE is a great initiative, and the weather at this time of the year is perfect for cyclists."

"But we need to work on the active culture in the UAE, so I think creating more bike lanes will help promote a healthier lifestyle, because more people will commute by cycling during winter, especially European expats," he noted.

Thus, building more bike lanes will not only grow the number of cyclists, but it will also help create a sustainable environment by decreasing pollution caused by vehicles. Moreover, since congestion is another headache, especially during peak hours, more cycle-friendly roads will help reduce traffic-jams.

Dot to extend network

An official from the Department of Transport (DoT) told Khaleej Times about the Walking and Cycling Master Plan, which aims to increase lanes for cyclists, although an exact date about the completed infrastructure was not given.

"The DoT developed the Walking and Cycling Master Plan (WCMP) with the aim to encourage alternative and sustainable transport options such as walking and cycling while increasing the safety of cyclists and pedestrians."

In the executive summary of the master plan, it states that WCMP aims to "achieve a doubling by 2020 and tripling by 2030 of mode share for walking and cycling, and increase the number of walking and cycling trips in urban areas by at least 200 per cent by 2020 and 400 per cent by 2030."

The plan will also help reduce the number of pedestrian and cyclist accidents by 50 per cent by 2030, as well as establish a new target for trips to school on foot and by cycle.

"DoT is working closely with infrastructure project developers to ensure that WCMP requirements are incorporated throughout the different stages of all new and existing infrastructure projects and as per the master plan guidelines. The WCMP also includes the establishment of integrated infrastructure to encourage the public to walk and cycle," noted the official.

jasmine@khaleejtimes.com

Why residents want to ditch the car for a cycle:

> Aids to a healthier lifestyle

> Helps us avoid traffic and

reduce traffic-jams

> Saves fuel

> Feels like an adventure

> Weather is perfect (at this

time of the year)


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