Rent-a-bike service gives residents more options to move around Dubai.


While cycling veterans welcome the initiative, they also want to raise awareness about using safety gears while on rides.

Cycling to work is not a new concept to Dubai. A lot of residents – both living near and far from their offices have been whizzing through the side streets and alleyways around Dubai and raising awareness on safety while on the saddle.

Giving a boost to the green habit, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched its bike rental service, the first of its kind in the region. The service follows along the footsteps of cities such as Taipei and Amsterdam, offering mobility to both residents and tourists alike.

Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the board of executive directors of the RTA, and Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO of Careem, inaugurated the service at the Jumeirah Lakes Towers’ rental station on February 22.

The service is simple to use – one just needs to book the bike via Careem’s app and scan a QR code to gain access to it. The bikes can be availed at stations around Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah Lake Towers, The Greens, Barsha Heights, Dubai Water Canal, Dubai Media City, Downtown Dubai and Al Qudra. Phase 1 of the service has 780 bicycles and 78 stations. By completion, the project will have 3,500 bicycles in 350 stations.

One of the groups that promotes camaraderie and safety while on the road is Foldubs. The group takes its name from the folding bikes that all members of the group use.

One of the pioneers of cycling to work in Dubai, John Flores, said that cycling offers flexibility and convenience in the sense that cyclists can opt to run for groceries on the way home or stop by restaurants and cafés. Parking woes are not included. He also points out that cycling gives back to the environment by reducing your carbon footprint when compared to driving a car. Apart from that, Flores also said that cycling is a great alternative to taking public transport.

“I have a more comfortable commute because I don’t need to squeeze myself inside a crowded Metro cabin or don’t have to wait at the bus stop because sometimes it comes late. I can reach home at my convenience,” Flores said.

Mark De Guzman, a bike mechanic for Pedal Cycling and Coffee, said cycling around town has also saved him a lot of dirhams in public transport. “Apart from being practical way to go around town, I also get to take in the amazing views of the city. It’s a good stress reliever from an otherwise tiring day at work.”

When asked how Careem and RTA’s new service will result in more individuals riding a bicycle in Dubai, De Guzman said: “It’s a good project. More people should cycle anyway, because it will lead to the development of larger bike lanes that can connect the city and make it safer for us to ride around town.”

Meanwhile, safety is a concern for Voltaire Jamison – a member of UAE Mountain Biking Jumeirah group. “There’s no denying that it’s a big help in promoting the use of bicycles but I’m concerned if they also provide essential safety gear with the rental such as a helmet. Authorities penalise riders without helmets so I’m concerned about the safety of individuals who avail this service.”

Additionally, Jamison said that the service is great for tourists who wish to see more of the city: “It’s more geared towards tourists because the bikes are readily available near the Metro stations and they can use it to stop and go at different places to snap photos.”

Another member of the club, Frankie Boton, said that additional payment options should be made available: “The service is new so I hope they add more flexible payment options in the future.” Boton also opined that depending on an individual’s location, owning a bike may be an even better proposition. “If the bike rental area is near your workplace, then it makes sense. Otherwise, you’re better off investing in a bicycle.”

Like De Guzman, Boton hopes that the service will lead to the development of cycling facilities around the emirate. “The service could be UAE’s way to promote itself as the cycling capital of the region. I hope that in the future, an increasing number of cyclists will be given a longer and more diverse network of lanes to go around the city.”

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