Bicycle boom

May 20 - 26 , 2020

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Bicycle boom

Bicycles have made a significant comeback as they offer various health benefits and have become one of the popular modes of transportation around the world due to Covid-19.

With mass-transit ridership in free-fall, many people are seeking alternative methods of getting around. Cities are promoting other means of transport, such as cycling and walking, to limit traffic gridlock and usage of public transport. Cycling is one of the best options to get around easily and with fewer cars on the road, riders have more room to roam.

Cycling has also become a favourite pastime for families with children that are looking for a lockdown-compliant way to get outside and keep healthy.

Sarah Alsammak, founder of Cycling Bees in Bahrain, is delighted to see more people turning to cycling.

She said: “There are bikes everywhere now! I am glad people are considering a different lifestyle and I hope this lifestyle will stick with them even after Covid-19. I think people in Bahrain are doing it because they can’t go to cafes, malls or gatherings and want to escape and have some fresh air.”

Alsammak’s passion for pedalling started in Canada in 1999 when she was 15. She loved how cycle-friendly it was there and the respect motorists had for cyclists on the road.

“When I came back to Bahrain, the idea of cycling was stuck in my head,” explained Alsammak, 36, from Saar. “I got my first road bike in 2006 with my first pay cheque and started only riding in Awali. That’s how I convinced my parents!”

Alsammak has cycled in four continentals and has won 16 medals. She participated in the Spinneys 92 in Dubai and qualified for the World Championships Grandfondo in Italy. She was also the first Arab woman to take part in the Maratona Des Dolomites in the Italian Alps.

Cycling Bees started when she was training for Ironman after having her daughter Zuhoor. She was training with her friend and co-captain of the Bees, Dana Zubari. They started taking photos of their rides and ladies started contacting them to join. She called it Cycling Bees because she calls her bright-yellow-and-black-bike a bee.

She added “What’s nice about cycling is that you can start at any age. It has less impact on your joints and cycling can actually help burn fat and calories as well. Plus, you can never get bored of it! All you have to do is change the road and it’s like another playground.”

Alsammak’s basic points for beginners include obeying traffic rules, wearing a helmet, having lights on your bike and wearing a reflective vest.

She said: “Cyclists are considered vehicles so they should ride with the traffic flow. They should not be on the left lane, only right lane and should not cross a red traffic light. Also, helmet, helmet, helmet! Helmets will protect your head if anything happens so please wear a helmet and wear a proper one too.

“If you are riding on the road with cars, you will need lights or at least a reflective vest.

“Most shops I know ask their clients if they have helmets or lights before they go out. However, I think it would be nice if they give out a small piece of paper that outlines the basic safety aspects for cyclists on the road as they do for new drivers at the traffic control department.

“I am happy to see more people staying active on their bikes and I hope we will get more cycling lanes sooner than we expected!”

For details, follow Sarah @Sarahcyclist on Instagram.

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