x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai students pedal for a smoothie to promote Car Free Day

Stationary bikes were hooked up to blenders at Kite Beach on Sunday with onlookers invited to pedal their way to creating a free treat.

Marko Polyak enjoys the smoothie challenge – while his friends enjoy the fruits of their labour. Antonie Robertson / The National
Marko Polyak enjoys the smoothie challenge – while his friends enjoy the fruits of their labour. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI// Organisers of a campaign to persuade people to give up using their cars came up with a novel way of associating an alternative method of transport with fun – by having people cycle for a smoothie.

Stationary bikes were hooked up to blenders at Kite Beach on Sunday with onlookers invited to pedal their way to creating a free treat.

Cycle For A Shake is part of Dubai Municipality’s Car Free Day campaign to encourage residents to use bikes or public transport to get to work next Sunday.

The goal of the annual campaign, which is in its seventh season, is to promote a healthier lifestyle and to cut the emirate’s carbon emissions.

More than 20 students from the University of Wollongong, Dubai, volunteered at the pedal station and did a great job of generating the power of excitement around the event, said Hana Al Awadi, 30.

It was the volunteers cheering on the cyclists that grabbed her attention. “It’s really a great atmosphere, and they are making it fun for the people and kids,” she said, adding that she would consider going car free on February 21.

“I’d consider it. It may be difficult having to drop off and pick up the children from school but carpooling is a great option.”

Sandunie Wijesekara, 22, volunteered at the event because, she said, it was a good opportunity to raise awareness about a subject that impacts all residents. “It’s important to be environmentally conscious and learn that you have alternate transport options,” she said.

Guilherme Monteiro, 29, from Portugal, said he and his family were walking on the beach when they noticed the green station.

“We thought it was good fun and that it would be funny to cycle on the bike for juice,” said the tourist. “It’s a good initiative, and it’s a great way to raise awareness about going car free.”

Tasnim Al Falasi, head of the environmental awareness section at Dubai Municipality, said the station was so popular that they were running out of fruit.

“Over the weekend, we had to shut down by 6pm because there was no more fruit left,” she said. “We have many families coming, residents and tourists, including some from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”

She said that since the launch on February 7, they have even had regulars. “We sometimes now see the same people coming back, either cycling for a shake before their workout or after spending time on the beach,” said Ms Al Falasi.

Cycle For A Shake is being held every day until February 21. It is open from 3pm to 8pm on weekdays and on weekends, 8am to 11am then 3pm to 8pm.

The municipality has set up a website for Car Free Day at www.dm.gov.ae and individuals and companies can register to take part in activities.

Website visitors can also use the carbon-saving calculator to work out how much pollution they will save if they leave their car at home.

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae