Doha drawing up plans to become the region’s first bicycle city

June 17, 2010
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Doha is drawing up plans to become the region’s first bicycle city, officials have said.

“We have worked out the Qatar National Bicycle Master Plan to make Qatar the centre of bicycle in the Middle East,” Saad Mohammad Khodr, Senior Transportation Engineer at the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, said.

Saad said that people who are sceptical that Doha, with its scorching heat and high humidity levels, is dreaming of turning cycling into a popular practice, should adopt a different attitude, especially that the weather is pleasant enough for six months a year for bicycle riding.

“People do not take to cycling not because of the heat but because it is not safe. Now in all our new projects we have to draw up a plan so that the streets are adapted to bicycle traffic, in those plans,” he said.

The Qatari capital is already working on plans to set up bikeways by refitting the existing roads to allow bicycle rides and increase safety for cyclists, Saad said in a presentation at the MEED Qatar Transport Project 2010.

Roundabouts, a major feature in Gulf roads, remain a strong challenge. However, Saad said the plan included short-term and long-term solutions, such as developing under-path cycle routes for cyclists to manoeuvre through safely.

“All this has been detailed and studied in our plan,” he said.

He said such an undertaking required a lot of detailed plans for a complete infrastructure for cycling, including bike tracks, roundabout crossings and places where bicycles can be picked up or parked. “This was a complete national master plan that we did,” he said.

The cycle routes would cover almost the whole country, from recreation spots to major roads and local streets.

Bike tracks could also be created on existing roads to make bicycle traffic safe. “It is not just the bicycle as a means of transportation, but it is about creating more chances for people to have leisure time,” he said.

Bicycles as a means of transportation are popular mainly among young boys and Asian expatriates.

Last October, Dubai transport officials announced plans for 4,000 more bicycle parking spots across the city to encourage people to incorporate a healthier way to travel in their daily routine. Dubai had 2,000 bike parking slots before the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced its decision.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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