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Cycle to work ... and have fun doing it

Cycle to work ... and have fun doing it

Dubai - The myth that cycling is dangerous in Dubai stems from old news stories about road accidents taking place where some cyclists are involved as victims.

By Keith Pereña

Published: Sun 5 Feb 2017, 6:22 PM

There is a long-standing myth that prevents budding cyclists from ever taking on the saddle along Dubai roads - it's dangerous. But here's the thing, it's pretty safe to go cycling around Dubai, especially in this day and age. And on the occasion of Car-Free Day, KT tells you why.
The myth that cycling is dangerous in Dubai stems from old news stories about road accidents taking place where some cyclists are involved as victims. One popular example of this is Lebanese triathlete Roy Nasr who passed away after he was hit by a drunk driver while he was out practising near Safa Park. Nasr's story has become the must-quote tale when people talk aspiring cyclists out of cycling in Dubai.
Since then, the Dubai Government has taken strides to improve the emirate's friendliness to cyclists with bike paths continuously being built along city streets. You don't even need to go far to see the newest development in this area - there's a cycling track that runs through the Dubai Canal and leads all the way to Burj Al Arab. Apart from recent developments that make the city more cycle-friendly, pedaling to work has its benefits.
To know more about the perks of cycling to work, we spoke to FOLDUBS - a local cycling group in Dubai that is promoting the use of cycling in the emirate.
Veteran cyclist Ben Joseph Dela Rosa agrees about exercise and saving money in the long run. He also made it a point to say that cycling is a passion that is widely shared among the cycling community. And that is the main reasons as to why expats like him ride a bike rather than take a car.
One of the pioneers of cycling to work in Dubai, John Flores, says that cycling offers flexibility and convenience in the sense that cyclists can opt to run for groceries on the way home or stop by restaurants and café. Parking woes are not included. He also points out that cycling gives back to the environment by reducing your carbon footprint when compared to driving a car.
When asked the question why he cycles to work, FOLDUBS' Jecris Umali's reason resonates with the rest of the group - to save up on fares and get fit while doing so.
The community is one of the fastest growing cycling communities in Dubai and their goal is to promote the use of cycling in the city.
Safety first
As a general consensus, the group emphasises safety first before cycling in the city. One of the things they constantly remind cyclists is to wear helmets and reflective vests while biking; lights attached to the bicycle are also a must especially when cycling in the evenings. They have weekly gatherings where they promote these safety guidelines in the sense that you cannot take part in the 'ride' if you don't have the proper safety gear.
It's daunting to get on the saddle and cycle around Dubai at first, but when you realise that it's safer than what everybody chooses to believe, you'll enjoy benefits that many cyclists in Dubai enjoy - from getting fit to saving up money and even saying goodbye to parking woes, cycling in Dubai is doable and what better way to observe Car-Free Day than be car-free for good?
Saving ... one dirham at a time
Khaleej Times speaks to three enthusiasts, who cycle well over 12km daily to work. In addition to helping the environment breathe, they say it helps them save money.
Al Nahda to Dubai Airport Freezone (12km)
Fassi Abobakar, who has been cycling from his home in Al Nahda up to his office in Dubai Airport Freezone for four years now, says that he prefers to cycle to work because it not only doubles as an exercise, but it also allows him to save money on a daily basis. On average, he saves about Dh6 every single day. Do the math and that's Dh180 in a month and Dh2,160 in a year!
Deira to Rashidiya (12km)
Joyce De Jesus who cycles to work daily from Deira to her office in Rashidiya concurs with the points made on exercising and saving money. She has been cycling for a year now and so far the experience has been interesting (not to mention saving a lot!). That's a lot of dirhams saved and carbon footprints reduced!
Bur Juman to Al Baraha (7km)
Mark Gabriel jump-starts his day by cycling to work. Cycling energizes him and gets him "ready for the day's challenge". He has been biking to work for more than a year now in Dubai.
- keith@khaleejtimes.com

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