H.H. Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, has received the ‘UCI Bike City’ label for Abu Dhabi from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling’s global governing body. Abu Dhabi is the first destination in Asia to receive the prestigious cycling distinction.
Sheikh Khaled received the label at a special ceremony at Hudayriyat Island cycling track in Abu Dhabi, which was also attended by Aref Hamad Al Awani, Secretary General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, as well as David Lappartient, President of the UCI.
During the event, Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed also launched Bike Abu Dhabi, a new enabling platform to spearhead the emirate’s long-term cycling ambitions to become a leading global cycling hub by further enhancing infrastructure and by fostering links between three critical elements for cycling growth: mobility, health and leisure, and sport.
Commenting on the occasion, Sheikh Khaled said: "This celebrated title reflects the strategic approach our government has taken to transforming Abu Dhabi into a haven for cyclists. Through visionary thinking, the emirate has developed state-of-the-art sports and community facilities that help enhance Abu Dhabi’s position as one of the world’s most livable cities."
He added: "This exciting new chapter for the emirate will see Abu Dhabi achieve even greater heights in its work to drive sustainability across all areas of life, to advance dynamic urban development, and to create as many opportunities as possible for people to live healthy, active lives."
Aref Hamad Al Awani, Secretary General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: "The Bike City label reflects the city’s impressive global ranking for its high quality and cycling-friendly infrastructure. This adds to Abu Dhabi’s multiple advancements in cycling and in the take-up of the sport, which helps support a healthy lifestyle, contributes to protecting the environment, and enhances wellbeing among Abu Dhabi’s community."
He continued: "Urban cycling plays a key role in staying happy and healthy, and helps create a profound connection to the city. The new Bike Abu Dhabi platform is the start of an exciting new cycling chapter for the emirate that will inspire and engage people, whatever their ability, to take up cycling as part of a more sustainable lifestyle. We look forward to hosting a range of new international and community events and further expanding the city’s world-class facilities to help take cycling to the next level."
President of the UCI, David Lappartient, said: "The UCI Bike City label supports cities and regions that not only host major UCI cycling events but also invest in developing cycling through programmes and infrastructure. We are happy to announce Abu Dhabi as the latest addition to this list. Designating Abu Dhabi as the first Bike City in the Middle East and Asia underlines the progressive initiatives being taken to promote cycling and encourage participation among the Emirate’s population. Abu Dhabi is a city that has a clear vision, master plan and strategy to promote cycling among citizens and make the activity accessible to everyone."
Abu Dhabi’s new UCI Bike City label recognises the emirate’s long-standing commitment to the UCI’s Cycling for All strategy, which aims to promote cycling as a healthy, everyday activity, as a more sustainable means of transport, and as a competitive sport for amateurs and professionals.
Abu Dhabi joins other established ‘Bike Cities’ around the world, including Bergen in Norway; Copenhagen, the Danish capital; Glasgow in Scotland; the French capital of Paris, Vancouver in Canada; the English county of Yorkshire.
Under the Bike Abu Dhabi platform, the emirate will see significant infrastructure enhancements, including an extension of the emirate’s 300km cycling network to more than 1,000km. The network expansion includes the 109km Abu Dhabi Loop – a segregated cycle way linking key destinations across the city, further enhancing mobility and encouraging the population to engage in a healthier lifestyle through safe and sustainable transportation.
Plans are also in place to build Velodrome Hudayriyat - a 3,500 capacity arena for track racing that will provide further opportunities to host high-profile international and local cycling events. The 12,000 sqm development will further enhance Hudayriyat Island as the city’s main cycling hub.
After the unveiling, and to mark the occasion, the first ever Bike Abu Dhabi community ride took place at the Hudayriyat cycling track.
Abu Dhabi boasts a rich tradition of cycling, with established cycling hubs including a total of 28km of cycling track at Hudayriyat Island and a total of 40km at Al Wathba, which offer world-class facilities for all levels – from group rides, to solo cyclists and families. Abu Dhabi’s cycling community also has access to a well developed network of cycling paths that have recently been extended and enhanced by the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT). The world-famous Yas Marina Circuit Formula One track on Yas Island opens its doors twice a week for cyclists of all levels of cyclists to train for free.
Abu Dhabi has also become a hub for world-class cycling events, having hosted various stages of the UAE Tour, a UCI WorldTour event, and the National Road Championship, as well as regular year-round events for amateurs.
Following the Bike City ceremonial ride, Abu Dhabi was announced as the host venue for the 2022 and 2024 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships and the 2028 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.
A new community cycling event was also unveiled: the Abu Dhabi Al Ain Classic is a one-day race open to UAE clubs and amateurs that will start in Abu Dhabi and finish in Al Ain.
This follows the recent announcement by Abu Dhabi Sports Council of its partnership with RCS Sport for the organisation of the next three editions of the UAE Tour.
The emirate’s well established cycling club ecosystem provides opportunities for cyclists of all levels - from top-level competitions to weekly group rides and casual social rides. The Abu Dhabi Cycling Club operates under the umbrella of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which is involved in organising and hosting elite-level competitions and community events.