x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

'Lanes must be separated from roads’

Peter Mueller, 49, has been commuting to work via a mountain bike for the past 10 years. Even though he owns a family car, he only uses it occasionally and when he needs to.

Peter Mueller, 49, belongs to a group of people rarely seen on the capital's roads - commuter cyclists. The father-of-three owns a family car, but uses it only occasionally, when he needs to. He's been riding to work on a mountain bike for the past 10 years, since arriving in the capital from Australia.

"My bike is my vehicle," he says.

Mr Mueller, a keen triathlete, takes the bicycle because it helps to keep him fit, but also because it is more environmentally friendly. There's another benefit too - given the parking issues and traffic congestion in the capital, "It's actually not much slower than using a car," he says.

He heads to his office in the Al Dhafra Towers on the Corniche by cycling through Mushrif towards Karama and past Khalidiya Mall, keeping to backstreets where possible, as these offer the safest route.

Over the years Mr Mueller has seen many of his fellow cyclists injured and even killed, and has had several lucky escapes himself. Once, as he went through a roundabout a car crashed into him, before speeding off. He was left lying on the street and narrowly missed being run over by a bus.

"Thankfully there were no broken bones," he shrugs, adding that as his wife and children are also keen cyclists, safety "is always a concern".

Occasionally he will ride on the Corniche bike path, but warns it is not well suited to distance cycling, warning that, for a commuter cyclist, it's "deadly", chiefly because there are so many pedestrians.

For leisure, he goes to Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday nights, when cyclists are allowed to train on the Grand Prix track. The evenings attract hundreds of like-minded athletes, but are once a week only and limited to between 6 and 9pm.

He has visited Dubai's Al Qudra bike track and noticed how popular it has become in a short space of time, and hopes the track's success could spur Abu Dhabi into creating a similar facility. "We desperately need something like that in Abu Dhabi," he says.

He says there are short cycle paths scattered across the capital, but these are usually part of a road and offer little protection from the traffic.

"To be effective they have to be separated from the road," Mueller said. "That's the only way it could work."

 

aalkhoori@thenational.ae