Dubai residents swapping cars for cycles, e-scooters
Dubai - The concept of a healthy urban environment starts with the promotion of alternative forms of transport.
Some Dubai residents are swapping their cars for bicycles, electric-powered scooters or skateboards for better mobility and to help promote a cleaner and greener environment.
They believe that the concept of a healthy urban environment starts with the promotion of alternative forms of transport - including cycling - which are convenient and also help them save time and money.
Of course, one limiting factor in the UAE is the weather. No matter how well physical interventions for promoting cycling are implemented, the heat, especially during summer can affect the acceptance of this mode of transport.
"But cycling, e-scooters or even skateboards can be used as the first and last mile solutions, along with the use of public transport," Dubai resident and Filipino expat Jeth Soliman told Khaleej Times. "For example, I use my e-scooter and hop on the Metro to reach work," he explained.
He added: "Dubai has vastly improved its infrastructure for community-wide use of alternative transport and it has become convenient for residents living and working in several new communities in Dubai to use their bikes or scooters."
However, besides infrastructure improvements, it requires a focus on educating bicycle riders and motorists alike to guarantee their safe interaction, according to Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE.
Edelmann noted that bicycle riders are vulnerable and thus require dedicated and safe lanes.
"Expanding bicycle infrastructure has many benefits linked to the reduction of road traffic, traffic congestion and CO2 pollution as well as positive health effects for the riders. It's a global trend for alternative and sustainable transportation and a bicycle commute can definitely play a vital role. It would suit UAE's cities well to embrace this global trend," he underlined.
Meanwhile, some residents and motorists have complained of "irresponsible driving" by some scooter riders. This prompted the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to temporarily suspend the rental operations of scooter-sharing apps in Dubai.
A senior RTA official also clarified to Khaleej Times that as per the Federal Traffic Law 21 of 1991, e-scooters are categorised as motorcyles and not allowed on roads classified as right-of-way, including highways, shoulder roads and public pathways, unless they are licensed by the RTA.
The RTA said it is "considering the technical and legislative requirements to allow the operation of electric scooters in addition to the conditions and commitment of scooter drivers."
"But you can use your e-scooters in closed areas, or if they are allowed by the Dubai Municipality, including in parks and inside the campuses," Mousa Al Raeisi, director of Monitoring and Enforcement at RTA's Licensing Agency, said.
He added that the RTA is not the first government entity that has enforced a ban on e-scooters to use the roads designed for vehicles. "Safety and smooth transportation for all are our priorities. We are completing the study and will come up with relevant laws, including, possibly the licensing of e-scooters like what we require for motorcycles," Al Raeisi noted.
So, at present, what are the laws and regulations governing the use of bicycles and other non-licensed modes of transport and mobility?
The RTA said as per Federal Law No 21: "Cyclists shall stick to the right side of the road and they are prohibited to drive their bicycles on pavements. In case a special track for bicycles is available, they shall stick to using the same, and will not leave it unless it is necessary to do so."
Bikes are also required to be equipped with a main headlight and a red rear light and reflector in the rear.
Another regulation is that bikes may not be leased to children under 15 years of age. While on the streets, cyclists shall drive their bicycles in one single file, one after the another, and they are prohibited to seek the assistance of motor vehicles to drag or pull their bicycles, or transport people unless the bicycle is fitted for that purpose.
Cyclists shall also wear protective helmets on their heads at all times.
Moreover, cyclists are prohibited to ride their bicycles without holding the steering rod, or holding it with only one hand except when giving a hand signal.
They may not ride in a zigzagging manner, nor may they use excessive speed, or in any other manner which may result in endangering the public.
The RTA also said that it aims to extend the cycling tracks to 560km by 2022 from the current 385km.
The track will pass through areas such as Al Warqa'a, Jumeirah Beach, Nad Al Sheba, Jebel Ali, Al Quoz, Al Karama, Oud Metha, Hor Al Anz, Al Ghusais and Al Barsha.
Downtown Dubai, Expo 2020 site and Jumeirah Beach are also among the several locations that will have cycling tracks soon as Dubai aims to be among the most cycling-friendly cities in the world ahead of Expo 2020.
How to do it right in Dubai
AS A MOTORIST
. Bicycle riders are weaker than vehicles, hence be respectful and polite to them
. Bicycle riders are equal traffic participants - honour their rights
. Anticipate moves of bicycle riders and don't cut them off
. Keep a safe distance (from the side and from behind!)
. Be mindful that you can irritate riders with speeding, noise/honking or your headlights
. Around riders, use your indicators and make them know your planned moves
. Keep eye contact to riders
. Carefully open the door of your car and watch out for biker
AS A BICYCLE RIDER
. Always wear your helmet
. Be in control of your ride and your bike - drive defensively
. Make sure your bicycle is in good conditions, especially the brakes, tyres and lights. have a bell, too.
. See & be seen: Wear bright colors (ideally reflecting vest), stay aware of the traffic around you, make eye-contact with motorists and pedestrians
. If you have to ride on a street, keep to the right-hand side
. Use hand signals when you have to turn
. Give right of way to pedestrians
. Use only safe areas to ride your bike, ideally on bicycle lanes and try to join groups of riders
WATCH OUT FOR
. If you have to drive on the street, don't drive on the wrong side
. Avoid biking by night and in bad light conditions
. Don't bike on unsafe roads
. Don't bike in areas where biking is prohibited
. Don't use your mobile phone while riding
. Don't bike under the influence of banned substances