Get pedalling for a healthier lifestyle

Saddle up: The National’s campaign to have you leave the car at home and pedal to work is only 30 days away. So join in for your own sake.

This year an estimated 1,500 readers took part in the first #cycletoworkUAE event and, in doing so, made a positive statement about their desire to live in communities that are healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly.
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Will you swap your regular four wheels for two, don a cycle helmet and join us for The National’s second #cycletoworkUAE on Tuesday, January 12?

This year an estimated 1,500 readers took part in the first #cycletoworkUAE event and, in doing so, made a positive statement about their desire to live in communities that are healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly.

The benefits of doing so are proven. A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health showed that for every hour we walk or cycle, we add more than an hour to our expected healthy lifetimes, and there is a direct correlation between higher rates of walking and cycling and lower rates of obesity.

In cities and countries where walking and cycling are most popular, not just for leisure but also as practical means of transport, rates of obesity are at their lowest. But in countries where car use predominates, obesity reaches record levels.

Mohammed Al Otaiba, Editor-in-Chief of The National, hoped the number taking up the challenge would be even more this year.

“We’re building on last year’s success and are looking forward to seeing a larger participation with more people taking to the road on bicycles, and from across the UAE,” Mr Al Otaiba said.

“People find enjoyment in an activity that is fun, healthy and clean, and particularly during the cooler months of the year.

“There are still challenges to tackle. There’s a lack of adequate cycling lanes in an environment that isn’t fully accustomed to seeing bicycles share public roads, but changing attitudes begins with small steps.

“It’s an exciting time to be living in the UAE and be a part of its transformation.”

Can joining together to cycle to work really make a difference? Statistics from cities across the globe show the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Even in traditional cycling cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam, Malmo and Copenhagen, the number of cycle journeys taken has increased rapidly.

And even in the cities of North America the number of journeys made using bicycles has rocketed. Portland and Minneapolis had a five and fourfold rise in bicycle journeys between 1990 and 2008, despite being among the wettest, coldest US cities.

All of these cities changed because of demands made by cycling residents and commitments by their municipalities.

Admittedly, the UAE still has a long way to go before it can match the integrated networks that define so many cycle-friendly cities of Europe.

But there is power and safety in numbers. The more cyclists there are, the more drivers will take notice of them.

So join in The National's second #cycletoworkUAE day in 30 days and help us to make a difference.

We’ll all feel better for it.