On your bike

Well, actually, off with you and your bike, unless it folds, say Dubai Metro

Dubai Metro are keen to get us out of our cars, and onto their trains, but the same cannot be said for our bikes.

The RTA announced yesterday that bikes will not be allowed in stations or on trains on the Dubai Metro.

Ramadan Abdullah Mohammed Ramadan, the operations director of the Rail Agency at the RTA, told The National that bicycles would "spoil the interiors" of the trains and "bring dirt to the station".The RTA said, however, that it would reconsider its policy once Dubai's planned 900km of cycle paths were fully installed over the next two years.

Cycling enthusiasts were disappointed, but said they understood the impracticality of having bikes on busy carriages.

"It's fantastic Dubai is embracing a lower carbon transport solution," said James Duthie, who lives and cycles in the city.

While he welcomed both the Metro and the increased number of cycle routes, he said it was a "great shame they can't find a way to join the two of them up".

"If it is part of a cleaner and greener city, then surely a holistic approach ... would be far better for everyone."

Peyman Younes Parham, director of the RTA's marketing and corporate communication department, confirmed the RTA's policy, but stressed that it might reconsider it later, once it became clear how many people might benefit from greater integration between the two modes of transport.

"In a lot of European countries, buses have racks for bikes and we are looking at that.

"There are the type of bikes that fold up under your arms and they will not be an issue, but anything you have to wheel around, they will not be allowed."

The first stage of the cycle track project, due to be completed by mid-2010, the Gulf Coast Trail, will extend the current paths on Jumeirah Beach Road and Jumeirah Open Beach to connect the Burj al Arab with Dubai Creek.

Wolfgang Hohmann, the owner of Wolfi's cycle shop, said he had stocked up on folding bicycles in anticipation of the Metro.

Another cyclist, David Zarate, said: "The fold-up bikes are one option, restrictions at peak hour are another.

"I'd be happy to see bikes on the Metro but maybe not everybody would be happy to see someone put their 20kg rusted bike on when I put a carbon fibre bike on. They are two different things.

"If [the Metro] is jam-packed like Tokyo, you cannot get the bike on and in the process annoy 20 people while trying it."

He said the wait-and-see policy was sensible, because if the Metro was a success, it could get very crowded at peak times.

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