The National newsroom staff reveal the ups (and downs) of pedalling to the office

Mohammed Al Otaiba, Editor-in-Chief It took three hours over a distance of 43 kilometres and a swollen left thumb to get to work. While I chose to take the scenic route on Tuesday, perhaps I should also have been a bit more sensible along the way. However, at one point instead of stopping and lifting […]

Mohammed Al Otaiba, Editor-in-Chief

It took three hours over a distance of 43 kilometres and a swollen left thumb to get to work. While I chose to take the scenic route on Tuesday, perhaps I should also have been a bit more sensible along the way. However, at one point instead of stopping and lifting my bicycle off the ground to place it on the pavement, I cycled head on into the kerb, assuming the bicycle would jump onto the pavement. Instead, I flew off the bicycle and fell on my hands.

Cycling to the office usually takes me about 45 minutes. But on Tuesday, I thought I would meet other fellow cyclists who had decided to take part in this year’s Cycle to Work day. So I continued northwards to the Corniche and, since I was travelling through areas I hadn’t cycled in before – and so as not to repeat my earlier incident – I sensibly manoeuvred around road and infrastructure challenges to find the best and safest paths. It made me notice my surroundings and appreciate the details of neighbourhoods I cycled through much more, as well as people going about their daily routine. There’s so much I didn’t know about my city, I discovered.

Once I reached the Corniche, I was moved by the sheer number of people cycling. Their energy and enthusiasm simply overwhelmed me. And what a sight!

Checking social media, I found that people from across the country had posted their photos and shared their experiences.

As a result, the hashtag #cycletoworkuae was trending across the country at No 1, ahead of Zayn Malik’s hashtag #HappyBirthdayZayn.

Was the swollen thumb worth it? As long as nobody saw me fall – though really, I don’t mind a bruised ego – then absolutely! It might not be easy to change norms and foster good habits, but looking at the bigger picture there was a sense of purpose as we cycled towards community building. Everybody owned Tuesday’s event, and therein lies its success – #cycletoworkuae has officially become an annual national event.

Ann Marie McQueen, Features editor

Everything was going great as I cycled down the city side of the bike path adjacent to Salam Street, near the Eastern Mangroves Resort, after leaving my apartment behind the Holiday Inn on 31st and Airport Road.

Granted, I had already embarrassed myself by trying and failing to exit my building through a revolving door with my bike, but that part of the day was over.

What a beautiful morning, what a great path, I was thinking, blessedly cut off from Salam Street’s steady flow of traffic to my right.

The 3km recreational route is supposed to take riders all the way to Al Saada Street, although I didn’t know this until afterwards. Most people would have pre-mapped their trip, but I like a sense of adventure when I can get it and headed out with just a vague plan.

Obviously I knew I’d have to get off the path at some point to get to The National’s offices. However, because I had already been almost sideswiped twice by cars as I made my way down Rabdan Street towards the path, I wasn’t particularly excited for more city cycling. But then, up ahead, the sight of barriers across the path. As I eased closer, about halfway through my journey and more than a full block from Al Saada Street, I could see that a giant sandpit ended the path. I ducked into side streets at that point (not having much of a choice), made it down Al Saada Street for a slightly scary crossing at Muroor, through a car park past Al Jazeera Sports and Cultural Club, over another sandpit and down more back roads – arriving at work after a (mostly) calm and cool 45 minutes.

Álvaro Sanmartí, Business designer

For me, riding to work from Gate Towers on Al Reem Island is not something that happens only once a year – it is something that I do every day. I have two different routes, a shorter one (6.5km) for summer and a longer one (8.1km) for the rest of the year.

On Tuesday, of course, I took the longer one, which is more fun and safer even though some days the road below Al Reem Island bridge can be quite busy with lorries. But even on the worst of days, it is much better than riding along with cars travelling at more than 100kph.

The second bridge, over Salam Street, is harder to ride. But there is quite a good side area where I feel safe even though it’s full of dust on the pavement.

Once I’m on Abu Dhabi Island, everything is much slower, because I take small streets full of speed bumps, crossing Delma Street to continue along a back road to Al Mamoura building. There are at least nine speed bumps, I believe.

Drivers might hate the speed bumps, but they make my daily commute more fun because they give me the chance to pass superfast cars. Once I reach Al Mamoura parking area, I just go straight to The National’s offices on Mohammed bin Khalifa Street.

Source: uae news

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