DUBAI // The Dutch community in the emirate took to their bicycles Friday morning ahead of the Cycle to Work UAE event on Tuesday.
The consulate of the Netherlands organised the community ride around Dubai Marina, drawing about 50 people who cycled, walked or were there to support their families and friends.
“We’d like to show the UAE that people should move. People sit in their cars and aren’t very active,” said Robert De Leeuw, the consul general.
In the Netherlands, which has a population of 17 million, there are more bicycles than people. Indeed, cycling is ingrained in the country’s culture.
Although “the weather for cycling here now is great”, Mr De Leeuw said it was generally “too dangerous” for people to cycle to work in the UAE. “It would be great if the authorities can look into the matter,” he said.
The consul general suggested that the UAE follow The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany in providing dedicated lanes for cyclists.
Although the UAE has some cycling lanes, residents remain focused on using cars and the metro, according to Mr De Leeuw.
He added that obesity and diabetes were rife in the country and that young people were not pursuing an active lifestyle.
“These conditions can be avoided by being active, so it’s a cultural change that needs to take place. The authorities are paying attention to it but you have to convince the young people,” he said.
Eva Plumbridge, who works in the economic department of the Dutch consulate, joined the community ride with her husband Nigel and 21-month-old son Aiden. The boy was strapped into the children’s seat on his mother’s bicycle. Mrs Plumbridge said cycling in the UAE was “very unappreciated”, especially in areas such as Dubai Marina and her residential area of Umm Suqeim. She said the Cycle To Work campaign was a good way to raise awareness.
Mr Plumbridge works in construction. “We quite often take Aiden out for a ride in the morning at the weekends as a family activity,” said the Australian expatriate who has lived in the UAE for 10 years. He cycled to work when he was in Sydney.
“There’s a need for more safe cycle paths here though,” said Mr Plumbridge.
Lotte Schippers, the Dutch deputy consul general and a recreational cyclist, said she would like to have more places suitable for families to cycle together.
“It’s such a nice way to enjoy the outside, be in the fresh air, and embrace healthy living,” she said.
Eileen Rosier, a 39-year-old Dutch hospitality professional, took part in the community ride yesterday.
The UAE resident of nine years cycled with Robina, her three-year-old daughter in tow, while her husband carried their five-month-old baby as he walked the seven-kilometre route.
“The Dutch are known to ride bikes daily to work,” said Mrs Rosier. “So doing community events like this, we should be a part of it to help promote the concept.
“Healthy living should be on everyone’s mind and this is a fun way to do it. It’s a good morning out with the family and friends.
“The country is becoming a lot more active now and there are so many more events going on, not just in Dubai but all over.”
Source: uae news