This is not some hipster irony this is a truth. I’ve been riding here for three years. The amount of fear of cyclists on the road is unbelievable. This comes from both cyclists and non-cyclists. We all know that cycling in itself is inherintly a dangerous activity. You could fall, run over something, have a mechanical and many other things happen to cause injury but the general rule in Dubai is that cycling is unsafe on the road. I’ve witnessed far far more crashes on the cycle path here than anywhere on the roads of the UAE.
Having a predominant Ex-patriat population and not much else to do (weather and geography do play a part) cycling has grown as an Elitist form of physical activity. Cycling in Dubai is not dissimilar to gym, muscle bound weekly work outs that draw 1000’s of people to become “Trainers”.
God bless Dubai and the UAE, they have created some spectacular bicycle paths. Truly world level. But it’s the mentality of the people that have taken over these paths. The vast majority of riders never have cycled outside of the UAE and very little in their home country. These bike paths are a double edge sword. They’ve done what was asked of them by creating a safe haven for cyclists to ride away from vehicular traffic. What they haven’t done is teach these riders any skills or how to ride with others let alone vehicular traffic.
Instead of starting a rant on FB or other social media, I’ve created a photo series to show that cycling isn’t just about what you ride, what you’re wearing and your latest FTP. That some people ride on the daily, the very streets these Lycra Clad Ex-pats on their fancy plastic bikes wouldn’t dare of.
Personally I ride both, trying to ride as much as I possibly can off track and from my front door. Often only possible on holidays or weekends as where I live, proximity to the city and heat don’t always make it feasable. This doesn’t mean I still don’t get my 2-300km per week in, sometimes starting at 4-5am. It hurts being a cyclist that has owned bicycle stores, run large bicycle distributors and being an industry insider to see and hear the bakwas (Urdu for bullshit) that spews from many riders mouths, when I reject or am seen riding on the streets, off the bicycle path.
I’m not trying to cause a revolution but with the perfect roads Dubai has, flat wide lanes and long straights it’s a dream for bicycles and awareness does far more than your car or a small cycle track.
There are countless studies showing that cyclists pay more taxes, relieve traffic congestion, health benefits, outweigh fossil fuels and so on. I’m no expert, i’ve just read quite a few reports.
What my goal with this series of photos is to show that cycling is for everyone, that riding a bicycle is a global phenomenon that dates back well before the country of the UAE was even created. That throwing millions of dollars for UCI Road races that NOBODY spectates or cares about would maybe rather be better spent on infrastructure and eductation. I tire of hearing excuses as the rest of the world, literally rides along with vehicles everyday.
I truly hope you enjoy these series of photographs (more to come) and see that Cycling in Dubai is not all about the latest and greatest. That it’s not all hype and fashion (though it is in a lot of ways) and that there are a large amount of daily riders risking their lives riding on the streets.