Our own participant in The National’s 2nd Cycle To Work campaign, Renate Berger, Junior Management Consultant at Daman, shares her insights into this economical, healthy, and fun commuting alternative:
How long have you been living in Abu Dhabi?
I have been living in Abu Dhabi for a little more than one year now.
How long have you been cycling to work?
I started cycling when our HQ moved to the ADNEC area, about 9 months ago.
What do you enjoy about cycling?
I enjoy that I do not need to worry about parking, unpredictable traffic jams, buses or taxis - that’s real freedom to me. And I like to feel connected to my environment: I experience the weather as it changes, enjoying the feel of the wind and sunshine on my face. Sometimes there is a lovely sunset when I cycle home. People around you start recognising you and wait for you to greet you. All that grounds you, it’s nice after work, and you really get to clear your head.
What made you decide to start cycling to work?
I have tried to cycle to work wherever I was based, including in Beijing and Washington, D.C. In Washington, D.C., I could cycle along the Potomac River to work, which took 45 minutes through an amazing recreational area in the middle of the city. In Beijing, there are huge cycling lanes as cycling is still the preferred means of transport for many Chinese. So when I came to Abu Dhabi, my first thought really was about where to rent in order to be able to cycle to work easily.
How do you compare cycling here to cycling in Germany?
Cycling here is different. In Abu Dhabi, people are just starting to consider cycling as a means of transport rather than sport. In Germany, cycling has a long tradition as a means of transport and has regained popularity as cars started to clog cities, parking became more of a concern and the authorities started to stop highly-polluting cars from entering the cities. Nowadays, city dwellers use bikes because they get them where they want, faster than driving and parking.
Do you have any tips for cyclists in Abu Dhabi commuting to work?
Safety first! And don’t be afraid of colleagues’ reactions when you arrive in your sports gear. All colleagues without exception have been extremely supportive and I have received a lot of encouragement.
How has cycling to the office affected your productivity at work (if at all)?
It hasn’t affected my productivity, but I arrive refreshed and more punctual than before when I used to rely on the bus or a taxi. And I get back pain from sitting in the bus that too is much better now.