Posted on February 05, 2011
Doha yesterday became the only capital in the entire Middle East to offer bicycle rentals to residents.

The move is significant, after the car-centric city with over-emphasis on “the bigger the better”, took the lead in following major Western cities, where the two-wheelers have made a resilient comeback, and are used extensively for both leisure or commuting purposes.

Doha yesterday became the only capital in the entire Middle East to offer bicycle rentals to residents.The move is significant, after the car-centric city with over-emphasis on “the bigger the better”, took the lead in following major Western cities, where the two-wheelers have made a resilient comeback, and are used extensively for both leisure or commuting purposes.

“The idea is to eventually make the country, bicycle-friendly with separate cycling lanes,” Qatar Cycling Federation president Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al-Thani told Gulf Times at the launch, which took place at the rental station, near the Museum of Islamic Arts.

Initially, the station at the Sheraton Park will be made functional. At later stages, more stations will be installed at Aspire Zone, at Lusail, Shafallah, and other places of ‘safe pockets’,
officials said.


Qtel chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed al-Thani, QOC’s Sheikh Saoud, ExxonMobil’s Alex Dodds, cycling legend Eddy Merckx and others try out the newly-launched bicycle rental service yesterday

As the system is being introduced, the project backers, MMUP and q.media Decaux, will offer the bikes for free to users for a duration of 30 minutes per rental.


“One station will have 10 bikes. They will be available everyday from 3pm-8pm for the first two months,” Doha Municipality director Mohamed Ahmed al-Sayed said.
“The station (opening today) is part of the bigger network to cover the whole country. People will be able to rent a bike from Souq Waqif, for example, and go do the shopping at City Center,” al-Sayed added.
For now, interested bicyclists will approach the station, where staff will take ID details and phone number and issue the bike for 30 minutes. Upon returning of bike, a user will be encouraged for feedback during the two-month trial, q.media Decaux managing director Steve Bovey said.


“Several models are being discussed at the moment,” Bovey said.

One is to issue electronic cards to users, who will simply scan them at the station and receive the bike automatically.

“We are continuously working with MMUP to expand the services as roads become ready,” Bovey said.
The rental bikes, assembled in France, are very robust and offer easy seat-adjustment, while it goes into low-gears automatically when stopped. The lights on the bicycles work on dynamo and after 100m can stay on for one minute, Bovey explained. All bikes come with helmets and a basket carrier.

The first bike rental service in the world was introduced in Vienna, in 2003. Currently there are 45,000 bikes available on rent in 67 cities around the world. “Around 160mn individual bike rentals worldwide have been registered since 2003,” Bovey said.

source: Gulf Times