Diplomats and oil industry professionals take to the capital’s streets for #cycletoworkuae

Cycle-to-work participants call for greater promotion of cycling as a means of transport and a route to healthier living.

Arif Lalani, the Canadian ambassador, and members of his embassy staff were among the organisations, groups and individuals all over the country who took part in #cycletoworkUAE. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Teams of cyclists in Abu Dhabi set out early on Tuesday to take part in the second annual #cycletoworkuae day in an effort to promote cycling as a viable means of transport and a path to an active lifestyle.

Just after sunrise, a group of five from the Canadian embassy met at the Eastern Mangroves in the capital from where they made their way to the embassy at Abu Dhabi Trade Towers at Abu Dhabi Mall.

Arif Lalani, Canada’s ambassador to the UAE, was happy to promote cycling habits in his home country while commending local efforts to encourage others to hit the pavement.

“With the promotion of a cycle culture, Abu Dhabi is joining other world-class cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver in fostering new approaches to city life,” he said.

“The Canadian embassy is very proud to be part of this activity.”

Embassy staffer Ronan Caillo said he regularly took his two children, aged six and seven, to the track on Yas Island to cycle, which he says is one of the few safe places to ride because of the total absence of cars.

“I love living in Abu Dhabi. I just wish there were more ways to cycle with the kids,” he said.

“If there was a way to bike around the island, that would be great, especially now that the weather is so great.”

His colleague, Carole Potvin Rozek, agreed, saying the city had many opportunities to become more cycling-friendly.

“I don’t feel safe on the roads and I don’t want to share the sidewalk with pedestrians,” she said. “There could be dedicated lanes on the road, and they could teach drivers about the rules.”

On The National's second annual #cycletoworkuae day riders representing the private sector also came out in force, including Reem Island developer Tamouh – led by managing director Joe Ong.

“We are happy to have initiated the cycling route in the area and witness the Reem Island community follow suit to commemorate the day, and we hope to start the new year with a renewed outlook on living healthy,” he said.

Also ending their morning ride at Abu Dhabi Mall, the Abu Dhabi office of oil company Total UAE put together a squad of more than 15 riders, including president Hatem Nuseibeh, who met up at Hiltonia at 7.30am and made their way to Abu Dhabi Mall in about an hour.

“It was fantastic,” said vice president and chief strategy officer Sultan Al Hajji. “It was a real pleasure to come to the office with a fresh breeze.

“I could make it a habit, the road was nice, and the people and pedestrians were understanding.”

Emmanuel Pradie, senior vice president of operations, already an active cyclist who makes use of the facilities at Yas Island and bike-friendly streets such as Al Bateen Road, said the UAE climate provided six months of ideal cycling weather.

“There’s a lot to do. We should be promoting the use of bicycles more,” he said. “Riding a bike to work could become more of a habit.”

Mr Pradie said joint efforts by authorities to improve infrastructure, along with those of employers in the private sector who could provide facilities such as showers and change rooms, would contribute to creating a more cycling-friendly city.

“If you make it happen you can change the image of the city.”