New bike-sharing scheme comes to Abu Dhabi

Eleven stations between Al Raha Beach and Yas Island will each offer 75 bicycles.
A new ADCB bike station, on Al Raha Beach Road, which is part of a public bicycle sharing scheme.  Ravindranath K / The National
A new ADCB bike station, on Al Raha Beach Road, which is part of a public bicycle sharing scheme. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // The global city phenomenon of bike sharing has arrived in Abu Dhabi.

Users can rent bicycles for as little as Dh15 a day from the 75 available at each of 10 stations between Raha Beach and Yas Island. The bicycles can be parked at any of the stations, regardless of where they were rented. This allows cyclists to enjoy rides without having to worry about locks or returning the bicycles.

“I used to use bike-shares in Montreal,” said Hassan Al Hasani, who studied at university in Canada. “I used my credit card, took a bike and went from one place to another.”

“It’s really convenient. It beats public transport and I could take it anywhere,” Mr Al Hasani said.

He felt safe using the bikes in Montreal because there were dedicated cycle lanes and general traffic awareness of cyclists on the road. Things are different in the UAE, he said.

“Here, I’d use it as an activity or for fun, but to take me from one place to another, no, I wouldn’t do that every week.”

He said the bike-share system in Abu Dhabi would be more for leisure and a fitness activity than as a way to commute.

“It would be one of the activities me and my friends would be interested in doing – grab a bike, take it to Yas and make an event out of it. If I can park it, I’d do it from time to time.”

Roisin Thomas, a triathlete and fitness trainer in Haddins Gym, said the bike-share programme was another to encourage people to engage in physical activity for fun.

“It’s an investment for the health of the nation. It gives people an option to exercise, be it if they just cycle down to Zeina and back, no excuses.”

Ms Thomas, from Ireland, said cities should be on board with bike-share programmes by providing accessibility, bike stands and paths for cyclists. However, in Abu Dhabi, she said, it was mostly a way to exercise.

“People who want to start working out want the transition to be as easy as possible. The bikes are fool proof, there is no hassle with payment and bike chains.”

She said bike-shares were a great way to get people interested in cycling.

“Test it out. People make hasty decisions, especially when it comes to buying a bike. We all know someone who bought a bike and now uses it as a coat hanger.

“The option to test it out first gives the person a feel for cycling without the hole in their wallet.”

The new bike-sharing scheme is sponsored by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. Bicycles are free for the first 30 minutes after a one-off fee, which varies depending on different packages. If the bike is not docked after the first 30 minutes, users will be charged Dh15 for a one-day pass.

Frequent users can purchase a Dh40 three-day pass or a monthly pass for Dh99. An annual membership for unlimited use costs Dh499.

nalwasmi@thenational.ae

Published: December 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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