Pedaling Around Qatar’s Extensive Cycling Routes
If you've been in Qatar over recent years, you'll have noticed a sharp increase in cyclists out and about - and why not? It's a popular sporting activity. However, one of the main reasons for the rise in two-wheeled travel is the accessibility to an ever-expanding network of cycle lanes and trails across the capital city, Doha and beyond.
The Qatari government has constructed thousands of kilometres of interconnected and safe paths and leisure trails to enhance the country's sports culture, encourage healthier lifestyles, and improve traffic congestion and air quality. Most new cycle routes follow new and upgraded road networks, while others are incorporated into parks and green spaces or encircle major landmarks, i.e. stadiums and malls. The latest cycle paths and trails to be completed incorporate shaded pit stops, bike stands, benches and night lighting, and also, alongside major roads, underpasses and bridges to ensure a car-free ride.
If you have a bike and are looking for some great rides or trying a new method of getting to work, you have plenty of options in Qatar. But why should you join the cycling campaign?
The Benefits of Cycling
The benefits of cycling are many-fold:
- Cycling is a fantastic strengthening exercise for our core, glute and leg muscles. But it is also a great aerobic activity, good for the heart and lungs. So getting on your bike is good for fitness and your health.
- Cycling as an exercise is cheaper than a gym membership; plus, you can cycle almost anywhere (given Qatar's new cycling path network) at any time of the day (since most paths and trails are lit up at night).
- Cycling outside not only treats your lungs to some fresh air but gives you a chance to get closer to nature (in parks, by the coast and outside of the city limits) - something that benefits our mental health just as much as the actual exercise.
- Heading out on our bikes offers us (as do most forms of exercise) a chance to leave the normal hustle and bustle and stresses of everyday life behind for a short time, allowing the happy chemicals released during our activities to work their magic and help us to relax.
- Swapping car journeys for cycling saves you cash and time not spent in traffic, but you can also feel good that you're opting for a more sustainable mode of transport, which is better for the environment!
- Cycling is a great way to explore your surroundings; you see more and discover more than in a car or on the Metro.
- Cycling can be a solo or social sport, with plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded people through groups and clubs who love to ride.
Cycling Routes in Qatar
So, if there are plenty of cycling opportunities in Qatar and a host of benefits to enjoy, the only things you need now are a bike and a list of routes:
Olympic Cycle Track
One of Qatar's newest and most popular cycling tracks is the Olympic Cycle Track. The path, opened in 2020, is not only Qatar's but also the world's longest continuous cycle track, according to the World Guinness Book of Records..
At 33 km, the Olympic cycleway runs from north Doha, with the pathway starting adjacent to Doha Sports Club in Al Egla, along the Al Khor Coastal Road to Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor; double back, and you'll cover 66 km in total.
The two-way track incorporates twenty-nine underpasses and five bridges to ensure car-free, stress-free, safe travel. What's more, car parking is provided next to the start of the track at both Doha and Al Khor and at several points along its route, i.e. Losail International Circuit and at the Simaisma Interchange.
Also along the route at intervals, and its start and finish, are water fountains to ensure you remain hydrated, numerous rest areas, benches, and cycle stands. Information screens dotted along the pathway keep you informed of the weather conditions, temperature, date and time, rider count, information about major sporting events that may impact the cycleway, and alert messages about safety. Refreshment stands, bathrooms, and Masjid are also available at the track's start and finish points.
If you complete the 33 km trek to Al Khor, you could also check out Al Bayt Stadium - one of the FIFA 2022 World Cup arenas built to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent used by Qatar's ancestors.
Stadium Cycle Paths
Speaking of stadiums, numerous 2022 World Cup venues were designed and built to offer community facilities to local residents once the final whistle blew on the football tournament. Most stadium precincts now provide areas for recreation and leisure, including running tracks, open-air gyms, sports pitches and courts, play areas, parkland, and cycling tracks.
You can find cycling paths at:
- Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor (4 km),
- Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wukair (2.5 km),
- Al Thumama Stadium in Al Thumama (4 km),
- Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Ar Rayyan (3 km).
The majority of the above cycle tracks are linked to public cycle network paths that are gradually being laid all over the city of Doha and beyond.
Doha Festival City Cycle Path
Image: Qatar Living
If you fancy a more technical style of ride but on a cycle path, head to Doha Festival City’s Outdoor Leisure Trail in Umm Salal Muhammed. The 3 km trail, encircling the shopping mall, is suitable for beginners and advanced cyclists, with thirteen technical trail features to test your mountain bike skills.
The DFC cycle trail is predominantly asphalt tracks. Different gradients and surfaces, including wooden boardwalks, rock and water causeways and gardens, have been built into the design to add some technicality. Additional technical features include varying obstacles, such as wedges, drop-offs, grade reversals, pump tracks, rollers, berms and a mist tunnel.
The track has shaded seating areas along its route and lighting for night riding. Plus, if you are feeling peckish or thirsty, plenty of food and beverage options are inside the mall and bike parking spaces outside.
Park Cycle Tracks
Another great place to head with your bike, especially if you want a more relaxed and family-orientated ride, is to any number of Doha's parks. Doha has a wealth of green spaces for a desert country, offering lawned areas for relaxation and leisure activities. But most parks also offer a plethora of other facilities, such as kid's play equipment, free fitness equipment, sports courts and pitches, walking and jogging tracks, picnic and BBQ areas and amenities, squares, plazas, amphitheatres, water features, art installations and heritage attractions, flower gardens and mazes, and, of course, cycling paths.
You can find cycling tracks at:
- Al Bidda Park on the Corniche (5 km),
- Aspire Park in Al Waab (5 km)
- Umbrella Park/Post Office Park on the Corniche (1.4 km)
- 5/6 Park in Onaiza (1.1 km),
- Rawdat Al Khail Park in Al Muntazah (1.1 km),
- Umm Al Saneem Park in Umm Al Saneem (1.1 km),
- Al Gharrafa Air-Conditioned Park in Al Gharrafa (700 m)
A number of the above-mentioned also offer bike hire services.
Airport Road Cycle Path
Another popular cycle track, running from Doha’s city centre to the country’s main international airport, Hamad International Airport, is the Airport Road Cycle Path. The 7 km trail runs alongside the main road, Ras Abu Aboud Expressway, to the airport from the beginning of the city’s C-Ring Road, opposite the start of the Corniche road. The track crosses just three minor roads, with underpasses provided under the expressway to HIA and the F-Ring Road to the F-Ring Bike Path - one of the growing number of networked paths in and around the city.
The airport cycle path is complete with night lighting for evening rides.
Losail International Circuit
Image: Tri Club Doha
Losail International Circuit is Qatar’s motor racing venue just outside of Lusail City. Hosting motorcycle and motor racing events, including the Formula One Qatar Grand Prix, the Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix, and the FIA World Endurance Championship, the circuit is probably the last place you would expect to find meer push bikes. However, Lusail Sports Club opens the floodlit course to cyclists (and runners, walkers and skaters - on the outside of the track) on Tuesday (ladies and children only) and Wednesday evenings, 5 pm to 8:30 pm, for three free hours of training.
The 5.38 km track is open to all ages. However, it is probably more suitable for intermediate to proficient riders than beginners, and an adult must accompany children under 14. All riders must wear a helmet and closed-toe shoes and cycle on the inside of the road. If you need sustenance at the track, there is an onsite diner, the Paddock Cafeteria, which offers free water to those using the track facilities. Bike rental is also available onsite for QAR 70 per session.
Public Cycling Network
As mentioned, Qatar has a growing network of public cycle paths - the network seeks to link all new and existing cycle tracks to create an interconnected two-wheeled transport route across Doha and beyond.
To the south of the city, the route from the Airport Road Cycle Path continues, joining the F-Ring Road track, which extends to Al Thumama, and the G-Ring Road path, which runs to the Orbital Highway past Mesaimeer. Both trails interconnect with a route running down the Doha Express Highway south past Al Wakrah, almost all the way to Mesaieed, some 40 km south of Doha city centre. The Expressway path also runs north as far as the D-Ring Road, branching west along the Industrial Area Road and east along the E-Ring Road.
To the west of the city, a cycle route has been laid from the Mall of Qatar along the Dukhan Highway to Education City. From here, the path drops south down the Al Rayyan Road, east along La Luqta Street and north parallel to Al Gharrafa Street, all to the Doha Expressway heading north out of the city. Another route from the Mall of Qatar runs northeast along the National Day Ceremonial Road, along Al Rufaa Street, again to the Doha Expressway.
To the city's north, networks lead from West Bay to Lusail Stadium alongside the Lusail Expressway, and from Al Sadd to Al Duhail, via Jassim Bin Hamad Street and Arab League Street.
Plus, many more pathways are extending the network all the time. Indeed, when Qatar has finished implementing its cycle network, thousands of interconnect kilometres will allow you to travel back and forth, uninterrupted, from one end of the city to the other.
The majority of cycle paths that run alongside major roads incorporate bridges and underpasses to avoid traffic. Other tracks include crosswalks over roadways for safety. All routes are provided with night lighting.
So, if you want to get out and explore the city on your bike, there are plenty of opportunities to do so…and many more on the way.
Main image: Keena Ithar/Shutterstock.com
Put some joy in your workout; try trampoline aerobics - more efficient than running and twice as much fun.
If you love to put the distance in, Qatar has some fantastic annual long-distance races to take part in.
Running is a great exercise, but staying motivated alone can be tricky. So, why not join one of Qatar’s running clubs?
If running is your exercise, Doha and the surrounding landscape have plenty of routes, tracks and trails to follow.