Daily Insider: Trials and tribulations of riding an e-bike in Dubai
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Daily Insider: Trials and tribulations of riding an e-bike in Dubai

Daily Insider: Trials and tribulations of riding an e-bike in Dubai

Riding a rented, on-demand e-bike in Dubai is an amazing feat for this city. But the popularity of it means that sometimes docking your bike can leave you with a serious conundrum.

Gareth van Zyl

Travelling on a rented e-bike in Dubai can be both an exhilarating and frustrating experience as I’ve come to learn in recent days as a new-again expat.

I’ve had the privilege of riding e-bikes in the beautiful Garden Route town of Plettenberg Bay in South Africa. The e-bikes I rode in the Western Cape, though, are owned by my family there. This means the prospect of signing up on an app in Dubai, grabbing an e-bike from one of the many bicycle docks across the city and then dropping it off at my final arrival point, was something that blew my mind. 

Such a model has never come to exist in South Africa. And it probably will never exist there – especially in my home town of Johannesburg. High crime rates mean that not only will the bicycles be stolen (even when they are locked) but probably the docks as well.

Therefore, my first experience of flying down a hill towards the Dubai Internet City Metro Station, on a rented e-bike, filled me with joy, while elevating the few hairs that I have left on my balding head. 

Docking the bike at the station, grabbing a train, and then undocking another bike at Al Khail Station made me feel like I hacked the Matrix.

However, there’s a saying that “nothing is as good as it seems” — as I would learn the hard way on my commute back home. 

Picking up an e-bike at my nearest docking station near work was easy enough. Cycling at high speed, I arrived with vigour at the Al Khail metro station. Only this time, my enthusiasm was curbed as all the bike docks were full — leaving me with a conundrum. 

I phoned the bike provider, and, inshallah, an agent kindly told me to gently park the bike at the spot and that he would stop the ride for me.

No problem, I thought, as I continued. Getting a bike at my next train stop, again, was easy. But arriving near my apartment, I encountered a full bike dock again. I then thought: do I try to ride to another dock station to park the bike? I could do that, but it would risk adding several more minutes on my journey.

I phoned the provider again, and they kindly told me to just leave the bike where it was. 

Only this time, the ride would end about an hour after I arrived home and would cost me an extra, unanticipated 10 dirhams. As we say in South Africa, “eish”.

It may be time for me to start looking at getting my UAE drivers licence…

Gareth van Zyl is the Group Editor of Gulf Business. Gareth has more than 15 years of experience covering the technology and business sectors in the UAE and South Africa

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