Abu Dhabi: How cycling became a part of the Capital's culture

Every evening - even in the blistering summer heat - individuals and groups of bike enthusiasts head to the cycling tracks

Photo: Visit Abu Dhabi
Photo: Visit Abu Dhabi

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 4:23 PM

As more and more residents take to the tracks, cycling has become ingrained in Abu Dhabi's culture.

The government is actively encouraging cycling and has boosted the sport by building new cycling infrastructure, such as tracks across the city.

The emirate’s well established cycling club ecosystem provides opportunities for cyclists of all levels - from top-level competitions to weekly group rides and casual social rides.

Every evening - even in the blistering summer heat - individuals and groups of bike enthusiasts head to the cycling tracks at Hudayriyat Island, Abu Dhabi Corniche and other cycling tracks across the city.

Professional cyclist groups can be seen riding through the Yas Island to Corniche through the Saadiyat highway, and on Sheikh Zayed Bridge towards Khalifa City and back to Yas Island during the weekends.

Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi became the first city in Asia to earn the prestigious 'Bike City' distinction for its high-quality and cycling-friendly infrastructure.

The UAE Capital was recognised as a Bike City by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the prestigious Switzerland-based governing body for international competitive cycling events, and also because the Middle East's only World Tour race "The UAE Tour" which begins early next year.

Abu Dhabi had joined other established ‘Bike Cities’ around the world, including Bergen in Norway; Copenhagen, the Danish capital; Glasgow in Scotland; the French capital of Paris, Vancouver in Canada; the English county of Yorkshire.

Road permit service for amateur cyclists

To further boost the cycling sport and preserve safety of road users, Abu Dhabi Police had in August launched the electronic road permit service for amateur cyclists.

These permits are provided to groups of cyclists who practise cycling that requires long-distance travel on roads with speeds exceeding 80 km/hr at the times they want to exercise

Members of the public can submit their applications using the Abu Dhabi Police website within a period of no less than 48 hours from the date of requiring the permit.

To obtain the permit, cyclists must meet a set of requirements, including wearing a helmet, placing front and rear lights on the bike, providing an escort vehicle to protect the group of riders, equipping the vehicle with hazard lights and adhering to safety requirements and others.

New cycling infrastructure projects to connect key attractions in the city

The emirate’s authorities last week announced a Bike Abu Dhabi platform, through which massive cycling-related infrastructure projects will be rolled out.

The mega plan will extend the Capital’s 300km cycling network to more than 1,000km. A big part of this project is the 109km Abu Dhabi Loop - a segregated cycle way that will connect key destinations across the city, further enhancing mobility and encouraging residents to engage in a healthier lifestyle through safe and sustainable transportation.

Plans are also in place to build Velodrome Hudayriyat - a 3,500-capacity arena for track racing, which will pave the way for more opportunities to host high-profile international and local cycling events.

The 12,000sqm development will further enhance Hudayriyat Island as the city’s main cycling hub.

Abu Dhabi boasts a rich tradition of cycling, with established cycling hubs, including a total of 28km of cycling track on Hudayriyat Island and 40km in Al Wathba. These world-class facilities are open to cyclists of all abilities - from group riders to solo cyclists and families.

Abu Dhabi’s cycling community also has access to a well-developed network of cycling paths that have recently been extended and enhanced by the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT).

The world-famous Yas Marina Circuit Formula One track on Yas Island also opens its doors twice a week for cyclists of all levels of cyclists to train for free.

Abu Dhabi now hub for world-class cycling events

Abu Dhabi has become a hub for world-class cycling events, having hosted various stages of the UAE Tour, a UCI WorldTour event, and the National Road Championship, as well as regular year-round events for amateurs.

Following the Bike City ceremonial ride, Abu Dhabi was announced as the host venue for the 2022 and 2024 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships and the 2028 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.

The Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, which operates under the umbrella of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, is also involved in organising and hosting elite-level competitions and community events.

A new community cycling event: The Abu Dhabi Al Ain Classic a one-day race open to UAE clubs and amateurs will take place next year, starting in Abu Dhabi and finish in Al Ain. It followed the announcement by Abu Dhabi Sports Council of its partnership with RCS Sport for the organisation of the next three editions of the UAE Tour.

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