#CycleToWorkUAE: Q&A with Mohammed Al Otaiba: ‘the UAE cares about being active’

Ahead of the second annual #CycleToWorkUAE event on Tuesday, January 12, we held a Twitter Q&A session with Editor-in-Chief Mohammed Al Otaiba. During the Q&A, we asked him a few questions about the event and he also responded to tweets from the public. Al Otaiba spoke about safety, cycling lanes and the health benefits of […]

Ahead of the second annual #CycleToWorkUAE event on Tuesday, January 12, we held a Twitter Q&A session with Editor-in-Chief Mohammed Al Otaiba. During the Q&A, we asked him a few questions about the event and he also responded to tweets from the public. Al Otaiba spoke about safety, cycling lanes and the health benefits of cycling. He also discussed the need to encourage active lifestyles, whatever the weather, and how he intends to lead by example tomorrow when he cycles to work himself.

The National‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): via Facebook: Are we allowed to cycle on the main road?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M): Absolutely. These are shared public spaces. You could also use pavements and frontages too — wear a helmet and pedal away!

The National (@TheNationalUAE‬): Are you surprised with some of the high-profile individuals (ambassadors and business leaders) who have said they’ll participate?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M): I was and I wasn’t. People who came forward who said they wanted to be a part of the campaign are passionate about cycling. Those people were incredibly responsive. The impact they can make will ensure the event is a success.

The National (@TheNationalUAE‬): Are you trying to raise awareness about cycling specifically in the Emirati community?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: Across the board. In every community. We are a country of 200 nationalities. Ambassadors from the Emirati community, for instance, care an awful lot about being physically active. They care about becoming more familiar with the community in which you live. This campaign is an extension of that thinking.

The National ‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): How important is the cooperation of the police?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: They are a key component to this year’s event just as they were last year. With so many motorists, police are essential to make sure everyone is aware we all need to share roads with fellow residents.

The National ‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): Do you think Abu Dhabi has enough bike paths?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: Definitely not. But there are plans to change that. On DoT’s website, you can see they want to make Abu Dhabi more bike friendly. Here’s a link to DoT’s cycling and walking paths master plan: http://bit.ly/1RvTCO0

The National ‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): How difficult was it to get companies to support this campaign?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: It was not difficult at all. These companies are ingrained in the community. They appreciate any effort, and have stepped up to be a part of our campaign to spread the word that cycling is normal.

The National ‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Rule of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, have recently been photographed cycling; how important is that to spread awareness?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: They are certainly great role models. There’s much we can learn from them — they can inspire us and we should learn from them.

The National‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): Youths are not always in the best of shape. Cycling is great exercise; is this one of the reasons you started #CycleToWorkUAE?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M): Yes, healthy living is definitely one of the benefits of our #cycletoworkuae campaign. But it is also about spreading awareness that people need to do something to get physically active. In this country, there is a high incidence of obesity and diabetes. Cycling is a low-impact form or exercise, and it can be a convenient transportation mode as well.

Sheikh Rehmatullah (@Sheikh_Rehmat): How can cycling enthusiasts deal with the long summer spells? To cycle, or not to cycle?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M): Indeed, that is the question. We can cycle in the evenings or join a gym and get on an exercise bike spinning.

The National ‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): If you could pass along any advice to motorists who need to share the road with cyclists on Tuesday, what would you say

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: Share the road. Be aware. Watch out for your fellow residents. Be mindful of your neighbours. And remember that as much as you, the motorist, has a right to the road so, too, do cyclists. Perhaps one day some of those motorists will become regular cyclists themselves.

The National ‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): When you are cycling in Abu Dhabi, what are some of the challenges you face?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: I try to be mindful. I think about the fact that I will not be in my car, and I will be vulnerable. My mindset is different, and I am more aware of how much I rely on my fellow residents to look out for my safety. When I plan to cycle, I carefully choose my routes; where am I going, do I have any dangerous intersections I need to cross.

The National (@TheNationalUAE‬): In your mind, what needs to happen for Tuesday’s #CycleToWork event to be successful?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: Well, number one, everyone must be safe. Cyclists and pedestrians and motorists. That we care about discovering our city, we care about our neighbours and looking out for them then it’ll have been a success. Also, the #cycletoworkuae 2016 event should help spread the message that the UAE cares about being active.

Sheikh Rehmatullah (@Sheikh_Rehmat): What are the gears you wear for cycling? Could you share an image sometime?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: Don’t go on the roads without a helmet. This is extremely important #CycleToWorkUAE 2016

The National‪ (@TheNationalUAE‬): Any idea how many cyclists participated in last year’s #CycleToWorkUAE event?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: Certainly less than 1,000 — from Abu Dhabi to RAK!

The National (@TheNationalUAE‬): Will you be cycling on Tuesday morning?

Mohammed Al Otaiba (‪@AlOtaiba_M)‬: Definitely, I will be cycling from my home to our newsroom, and for me it takes about 45 minutes one way #CycleToWorkUAE

Source: uae news

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