Learning to Ride a Bike in Qatar
Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage. The thrill of riding on two wheels is a mixture of fear and excitement that we all remember well. Our guide to cycling in Doha will help parents make bike riding as unforgettable an experience for their children as it was for them.
Children often learn to cycle between three and six years old. However, each child learns at their own pace and by different methods, so be patient and don’t be tempted to push a child to learn before they are ready. The most important factor to teaching your child to ride a bike—other than having the proper safety equipment—is ensuring they have an open, traffic-free location to master their skills.
Getting on the right track
For many families in Doha, compounds are relatively safe places to teach children to cycle and to let them ride freely. Nevertheless, compound size and the number of cars—parked and moving—can be a hindrance to young cyclists. Larger traffic-free, public spaces can offer a greater degree of freedom and a safer environment for learning to ride. If you are willing to take your bikes for a car ride, these locations offer bike-friendly options for kids of all ages and proficiencies.
Aspire Park, at 88 hectares, is the biggest family sports park in Doha. Children up to 10 years old are allowed to bike in the park, which boasts kilometres of bikeable paths and an on-road bike lane that runs parallel to the roads inside the park. The pathways are well lit and extra wide in some areas, making them perfect for kids on bikes. The size of the park also makes it a favourable place for teaching kids to ride.
Location: Al Waab Street across from Villaggio. The parking lot can be reached via the road between Villaggio Mall and Hyatt Mall
Hours: Daily 07:00–23:00
Dahl Al Hamam Park
This 9.3-hectare family park has ample play areas and equipment, smooth undulating pathways suitable for walking and riding, and a large flat space for skateboards, scooters, roller skates and bikes. The humps, slopes, bridges and small half-pipe provide an excellent place for kids to practice their technical skills. Weekdays during school hours are quiet and perfect for learning to ride a bike.
Location: Madinat Khalifa North, Al Markhiya Street and Arab League Street intersection
Hours: Daily 07:30–midnight
Museum of Islamic Art Park
The 27.5-hectare Museum of Islamic Art Park offers young cyclists a choice of riding grounds—a wide and level semi-circular pathway, which follows the waterline around most of the west side of the park, and smaller undulating pathways that crisscross the park’s various features and facilities. The wide paths along the waterfront are perfect for new riders. The park is busy in the evenings and on weekends, therefore the smaller pathways can be enjoyed best during the week.
Location: Al Corniche Street, on the waterfront and next to the Museum of Islamic Art
Hours: 24 hours
Sheraton Park (Dafna Park)
The new seven hectare Sheraton Park, whilst relatively small, features a number of long, wide and flat pathways. The terrain is perfect for learning to ride a bike and practice new-found riding skills. However, the park is adjacent to the main road and has no barriers between the park and street. Parents need to keep a sharp eye on more adventurous and newly mobile kids.
Location: Al Corniche Street, north of the Sheraton Grand Doha Hotel
Hours: 24 hours
Ras Abu Abboud Expressway
Don’t let the name fool you—you won’t actually be biking on the expressway. Starting from the Ras Abu Abboud bridge, adjacent to the new National Museum of Qatar, and running all the way to Hamad International Airport, is a 13.3km cycling track. The track is well lit and runs parallel to the main road at a safe distance. It is fairly quiet and would enable a family to have a good long cycle along a mostly straight and level terrain.
Location: The cycling path is located to the west of the expressway, and runs along the right-hand side of the of the road when leaving central Doha
Hours: 24 hours
Losail International Circuit
Losail International Circuit offers free public access to the 5.32km racing circuit on certain Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for cyclists, runners and walkers. Although their floodlit track is open to all ages, it is more suitable for intermediate to proficient riders rather than little beginners. The onsite Paddock Cafeteria offers free water to those using the track facilities. All riders must wear a helmet and closed-toe shoes. Children under 14 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
Location: Al Losail, along the Al Khor Coastal Road
Hours: Dates vary so check the website for the current schedule. Training days are typically on Tuesday and Wednesday 17:00–20:30 (the gate opens at 16:45)
Contact: +974 4472-9151, circuitlosail.com
Cycling safety and awareness tips
You may not be propelling your child to any pro-cycling championships just yet, but teaching proper bike handling, safety and awareness skills from the beginning will help them to stay safe and have fun in the future.
The following safety tips are a must when riding a bike in Qatar, whether in a compound or a park.
- Wear a properly fitted helmet.
- Wear bright clothes so that you can be seen clearly.
- Do not wear headphones, which may prevent you from hearing what is going on around you.
- If riding on sidewalks, cross roads at the street corners, not between parked cars.
- Always check in both directions for traffic when leaving your driveway, a curb or riding into a new street.
- Whether on the path or the road, keep an eye open for vehicles (or other riders) coming out of or into driveways and side roads.
- When passing other cyclists or pedestrians, pass on the left, and call out “On your left” or use your bell to alert them. Do not swerve around people.
- Don’t ride too close to parked cars. Someone could open their car door in your path before you have time to avoid it.
- Keep an eye out for changes in the surface of the road or pathway that could cause a fall.
- Ride in single file and stick to the right side of the path when bicycling with others.
Don’t forget bike maintenance. Keeping your and your kids’ bikes in good working order can help avoid some nasty accidents. Check the tyre pressure, the brakes, the chain, and check that the seat, handlebars and wheels are all fitted tightly.
Bike shops in Qatar
There are a number of places to purchase children’s bikes in Qatar. The type of bicycle you want, the age range of the child and their ability will dictate which store you should shop at. Here are a few ideas to get the ball (or bike) rolling.
Children’s toy shops generally stock a small number of kids’ bikes, which are usually of a less technical specification. Check out Toys R Us (C-Ring Road), Toys 4 Me (Villaggio), Early Learning Centre (City Center, Ezdan and Landmark Malls), to name a few.
Sports shops tend to stock more technical and sporty cycling equipment and fewer bikes for very young children. Try Go Sports at Villaggio and City Center Malls.
Bike shops stock a greater range of bicycles and cycling accessories though there are relatively few in Doha. Skate Shack (+974 4469-2532) on Salwa Road offers classic bikes, balance bikes and Trek bikes, which are designed to grow with your child. Also, check out Bicycle World (+974 6659-8377) in Al Wakra. Qatar Bike Shop (qatarbikeshop.com) sells bikes for ages 10 and up, spare parts and accessories, and offers maintenance and delivery in Qatar.