It has never been easier to get on your bike and go cycling around Qatar!
One of the objectives of the Ministry of Culture and Sports is to create an active sport movement in the country.
To obtain this objective, the ministry’s strategy focusses on creating an environment whereby all members of society are able to practise sports and physical activity, making available to the public the necessary facilities and working towards making exercising more attractive.
The ministry oversees the hosting of numerous regional and international sports events, and wants the public to enjoy both competitive and recreational sports all year round.
The authorities in Qatar have been busy beautifying public spaces for everyone’s enjoyment, including the ongoing construction of walking and cycle paths, in conjunction with the Public Works Authority (Ashghal). There are several paths dotted around the country, for example along Lusail Street and between Doha Corniche and Hamad International Airport. Further afield, and for longer rides, try the route close to Al Shahaniya camel race track and the Al Dossari Zoo and Game Reserve, approximately 30 km of cycling.
Not all of the paths are fully connected as yet, however they are landscaped and have streetlamps for use after dark. New cycle paths continue to appear all over Qatar!
There is now a ‘superpath’ available for cyclists to enjoy even longer rides in safety. In fact, Qatar is now the proud owner of more Guinness World Records, being home to the world’s longest continuous cycle path, and the longest piece of asphalt concrete laid continuously. Both of these records were achieved within the Al Khor Road project and the Olympic Cycling Track.
Danny Hickson, the Official Adjudicator at the Guinness World Records, confirmed the final figure for the longest piece of asphalt concrete laid continuously to be 25.275 km and the longest continuous cycle path to be 32.869 km, setting new world records for Qatar.
The Olympic Cycling Track connects Doha to Al Bayt stadium and is 7 m wide, with 29 underpasses and 5 bridges to enable non-stop riding, and is situated well away from the main road. It has been designed to allow speeds of up to 50 km an hour, making it a perfect destination for upcoming international competitions, and opened on 11 February this year, National Sport Day. There are also 80 bicycle stands, 100 benches and 20 rest areas along the route for use by the cyclists.
On the opposite side of the road are shared paths for pedestrians and bicycles, 34 km long and 6 m wide, with 18 underpasses. There are five car parking areas along the path – near Qatar University, Lusail metro station, Losail International Circuit, Semaisma Interchange, and Al Bayt Stadium – and 1,450 streetlamps to encourage cycling at night.
HE Jassim Rashid Al Buenain, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, said, ‘The Olympic Track is suitable for all segments of all ages, whether professionals, amateurs or people with special needs, which contributes to encouraging the practice of sport and increasing awareness of its importance in the life of the individual and society.’
Abdulrahman Musallam Al Dossari, adviser to HE the Minister of Culture and Sports and President of Qatar Sports Federation for All, has highlighted the importance of implementing an infrastructure that serves sports activities, praising the safety and security of the Olympic Cycling Track in being away from traffic. Qatar Sports Federation for All will be using the track to encourage walking and cycling by holding activities and competitions in the future.
The Supervisory Committee for Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar (part of Ashghal) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Qatar Cyclists Centre at the Ministry of Culture and Sports to provide services for the Olympic Cycling Track. These services include electric bike parking spaces, first aid, and the use of motorcycles to provide emergency assistance, among others. The MoU’s scope also includes organising events in cooperation with Ashghal, safety campaigns, first aid training for emergencies, and awareness sessions to educate riders on safe riding methods along cycle tracks.
At the signing ceremony, Yousef Al Emadi, director of Projects Affairs at Ashghal, said the MoU signed with the Qatar Cyclists Centre is aimed at educating the community and spreading the culture of cycling, in addition to using cycling as a safe and healthy means of transportation. He stated that Ashghal is creating infrastructure that contributes to enhancing a culture of sports among all segments of society through the provision of facilities, and that the authority will construct a network of cycling and pedestrian paths across 2,650 km by 2022.
At the signing of the MoU, Abdel Fattah Al Saadi, member of the board of directors at Qatar Cyclists Centre said, ‘We hope this agreement will contribute to encouraging all segments of the society to practise sport on a regular basis.’
The Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar works in coordination with ministries and other entities, such as the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC), Ministry of Culture and Sports, Qatar Museums (QM), Qatar Rail and the Private Engineering Office (PEO). It is responsible for five major tasks: construction of central public parks; provision of dedicated tracks for pedestrians and bicycles; development of Doha Corniche; development of Central Doha; and increasing afforestation and green areas.
Want to join up with likeminded cyclists? See Sports Activities in this section for listings of groups and clubs. Qatar Cycling Federation is the national governing body and has a lot of useful information about taking up the sport, as well as events and support for elite athletes. qatarcycling.org
Author: Sarah Palmer
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