#Cycletoworkuae: Father’s trusty old bike motivates Dutch expat to cycle more

A piece of home has arrived in Abu Dhabi allowing Jaap-Jan Boom, a Dutch national working for Mubadala Petroleum, to ride in style on two wheels.

It isn’t the top-of-the-line bicycle that may come to mind, but it is something of a legacy. When his father came for a visit, he requested that he bring his old bicycle – a classic Dutch model.

It isn’t for serious or competitive cycling. It doesn’t have any fancy bells or whistles. While Mr Boom was already a cycling enthusiast, his father’s old bike gave him more incentive to add daily errands to his cycling activities.

“Since my dad brought over his old bike, I’ve started cycling to the grocery shop on Reem and work more regularly,” he said.

The simplicity of the build wasn’t to reduce weight to allow the rider greater speed, but rather to keep the value low to avoid theft after a spin on the famously flat roads of the Netherlands.

According to Amsterdam’s official site, I Amsterdam, an estimated 63 per cent of the city’s residents use two wheels for transport, while almost half of the traffic in the city centre is of the two-wheeled variety.

Other statistics that have been reported show that out of an estimated 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam, more than 50,000 are reported stolen with 10,000 to 15,000 fished out of canals annually, according to the city canal cleaner Waternet.

Mr Boom said: “The bike is rusty and worth only a few dirhams, but it is the bike my dad used 30 years ago to cycle around Alkmaar in the Netherlands. My Emirati colleagues thought bringing the bike over was strange, but for a Dutch man, it makes perfect sense.”

And just like many other Dutch nationals, Mr Boom has another bike on hand for serious cycling. He and another industry colleague, Bram Herfkens, who works at Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), cycle a minimum of 50 kilometres on Saturdays at Yas Island on the public roads.

“We meet at Raha Gardens and cycle to Yas via Raha Beach, taking us around two hours,” Mr Herfkens said.

Mr Herfkens said that a year ago, cycling on their home turf of Reem Island in the evenings was a breeze. “With new buildings and bridges opening, we have had to go to more quiet places such as [the cycle tracks at] Yas and Wathba,” he said.

But there have also been several positives. “Abu Dhabi has done a lot for cycling, and as a result it has become more mainstream,” said Mr Boom.

He said that most buildings on Reem Island had now added designated bike parking spots, such as his office at Abu Dhabi Global Market Square. Just look in the car park.


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