Expansion call for cycle scheme

Dozens more bike-share stations planned after success at Yas and Al Raha Beach.
Eleven bike stations are currently scattered around the Al Raha Beach and Yas Island areas but there are plans to introduce dozens more on Saadiyat Island and the Corniche. Lee Hoagland/The National
Eleven bike stations are currently scattered around the Al Raha Beach and Yas Island areas but there are plans to introduce dozens more on Saadiyat Island and the Corniche. Lee Hoagland/The National

ABU DHABI // The minds behind the capital’s first bike-share programme hope the city’s transportation plans and infrastructure will expand at the same rate as its strategy, which is to be deployed later this year.

Cyacle, which in the Emirati dialect of Arabic means bicycles, has teamed up with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank to bring the scheme to the capital and the company wants to see cycling infrastructure develop concurrently with the expansion of its service to keep the streets safe for riders.

With 11 stations scattered around the Al Raha Beach and Yas Island areas, the programme, called ADCB Bikeshare, is working to expand to more areas, and reinvent itself from a leisure service to one that provides a viable option for residents looking to make short, quick trips.

“Our main target now is to have the programme become a means of transportation for short distances,” said Hani Akasha, 28, who started Cyacle with co-founder Mohammed Bashkeel, 27, and support from the Khalifa Fund.

Under the scheme, which started at the end of last year, users rent bicycles from Dh15 a day, which are picked up from one of the stations. After use, they can be parked at any one of the stations, offering cyclists flexibility.

Dozens of new stations are under development and include locations on Saadiyat Island and at the Corniche. It is hoped to have the expanded service operational by September.

To increase the effectiveness of the programme, Mr Akasha said he wants to work more with local government and the Department of Transport to increase the attractiveness of bike riding.

“We are still limited in terms of infrastructure in the city,” he said. “The thing is, in other cities in the world, when they started their bike-share systems, they didn’t have the infrastructure ready. They used their current infrastructure and worked around, and this is something we can also do.”

Mr Akasha said improvements such as the construction of ramps, painting laneways and a reduction in the speed limit in certain areas could help.

With more riders, he hopes policymakers will invest in higher-profile projects, such as dedicated bike lanes.

“Once the government sees people are trying to do it with the existing infrastructure, they will do something about it,” he said.

“There is a cycling culture here. If you go around the city you’ll see people cycling in the streets but they do not know where to go. If there is a proper system, even using existing infrastructure, everyone can be safe and it can become a great system.”

Cyacle spokeswoman Sarah Yousef said: “This is something you will use to get from point A to point B. The locations we are choosing are very strategic.

“They are close to residences, malls, and attractions.”

The city’s Department of Transport has developed a Walking and Cycling Master Plan, which aims to increase the number of walking and cycling trips in urban areas by 200 per cent by 2020 and 400 per cent by 2030.

It is also hopes to cut the number of cycling accidents in half by 2030.

The plan describes cycling as an “essential and increasingly popular means of personal transportation”.

esamoglou@thenational.ae

Published: March 31, 2015 04:00 AM

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