#cycletoworkUAE: Two cycle ambassadors share thoughts on pedalling to work

January 12 marks the return of The National’s #cycletoworkUAE campaign. We get tips from two cycle ambassadors, answer frequently asked questions and list bike shops to get you in gear.

Peter England, chief executive of RAK bank (front left), rides with his employees in Ras Al Khaimah as part of last year’s #cycletoworkuae campaign. Pawan Singh / The National
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Cyclists will be out in force on January 12 as part of The National’s second #cycletoworkuae initiative, which aims to promote health and fitness and a more environmentally friendly way of commuting to work.

Anyone with a bicycle and a safe cycling route can get involved.

Dorothy Byers, head of libraries at Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, regularly rides her bike to work. In fact, she chose her current home location because of its proximity to work and safe cycle routes.

“I get a lot of questions about bicycling to work. The first one is ‘Is it safe?’, because there aren’t good lanes for bicycles in Abu Dhabi yet,” says the #cycletoworkuae ambassador. “People also think it’s really hot in summer and they don’t understand how I can ride a bicycle in summer time.”

The heat is not the only thing Byers’s associates have questions about. Safety is another concern, however she insists cycling in the capital can be safe.

“People are worried I’m going to get into an accident, but I have three rules that I follow. One is that I don’t go out on major roads unless it’s early on a Friday morning. Second is that I assume that drivers are not going to see me, so I have to anticipate all the mistakes that everyone else might make. And third is that I follow all the rules of the road.”

Another regular cyclist and #cycletoworkuae ambassador, Christian Albrecht, vice president of operations and logistics at Etihad Airways, looks forward to his daily bicycle commute from Al Raha Beach to the Etihad office because it gives him a chance to experience nature.

“Cycling is a great experience, especially when the weather is cooler and you see things you normally wouldn’t see when you’re going by bus or by car,” he says. “Cycling gives me a direct connection to nature. I see more of what’s going on the left and right of the street.” He urges others to join him on January 12. “Just try it; I’m convinced you’ll like it, especially when the temperatures are nice.”

For Byers, cycling to work means her daily exercise is combined with the commute, leaving more spare time for other pursuits. “It also creates great energy, so when you get to work you’re not sleepy or tired.”

Keep reading The National newspaper and website for more cycling stories in the lead up to January 12, and visit https://www.thenationalnews.com/cycletoworkuae for details of the initiative. Follow us at Facebook.com/gethealthyuae and Twitter @gethealthyuae.


Frequently asked questions

Do I need to sign up for #cycletoworkuae?

No. You simply cycle from your home to your work and back. Tell the world you are participating by using the hashtag #cycletoworkuae.

How safe is cycling?

The UAE is still in the process of becoming cycle-friendly. Just as pedestrians must never assume they have the right of way, cyclists, too, must be cautious of vehicles. Using the hard shoulder, service roads and walkways are encouraged to make this day a success. And of course, always wear a helmet, fluorescent clothing, reflectors and use lights at night. If the traffic is heavy, walk your bike across an intersection. Make eye contact with drivers and signal your intentions. Cycle with the flow of traffic and if you do use the side of the road, stay at least a metre to the right of the cars.

I don’t have a bicycle. Can I still participate?

There are numerous bike rental options across the country. The National is also carrying discount vouchers to bike shops in the UAE, so this is the perfect time to buy a bike.

I have a question. Who can I ask?

Email us at cycletoworkuae@thenational.ae