Friday, June 25, 2021 | Dhu al-Qaadah 14, 1442 H
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Greening the world with pedal power

Dr Raj on the way to Muscat from Salalah in September 2018.
Dr Raj on the way to Muscat from Salalah in September 2018.

Two major international events passed calmly last week. Otherwise, the International Day for Cycling (June 3) and World Environment Day (June 5) would have gathered attention with events and awareness programmes from several quarters.

The days didn’t go unnoticed by the true nature lovers. They did their bit to save the environment in action and spirit. A medical doctor and an environmental activist, Dr Raj Phanden, who is cycling around the world, carrying the message of preserving the environment, was spotted in Oman in September 2018. Then he had covered 34,000 kms on a cycle covering many countries.

On the International Day for Cycling, he sent a message from Uganda to preserve the environment. He fondly recollected his visit to Oman, which “has great care for the environment and has huge potential for cycling due to its true nature and culture.”

During these two-and-a-half years, Dr Phanden added 26,000 kms to his cycling journey with a total of 60,000 kms, 57 countries and 102,000 trees that he planted. On his visit to any new country, he plants some trees in association with the local people and some organisations.

“I am serving the purposes of both — the Day for Cycling and Environment Day – and encouraging people to adopt cycling and plant more and more trees. Both are beneficial for the environment’’, he said.


In Oman, there are informal yet active groups of cyclists. One of the groups, Muscat Cycling, keeps the nature and health lovers engaged with cycling activities and encourages them to adopt cycling as much as possible.

“If there is one thing that you can use for your work, exercise and recreation, that is a bicycle. Cycling has a lot of benefits which we all know, and it’s available on the Internet. Still, most importantly, those who do not know how to cycle can learn cycling in just a few hours, or some people can learn it within a few minutes say, 30 minutes’’, said Randall Bernard, Group Coordinator of Muscat Cycling.

He calls upon everyone to adopt some physical activity. Cycling, according to him, is the easiest to adapt and continue.

The easiest way to learn to ride a bicycle is to remove the pedals and make sure the seat is high enough or low enough so that your feet touch the ground on both sides, then ask somebody to push you from behind. You have to remember that just like walking on a tight rope, when a person uses a pole for balancing on, the pole goes left and right; in the same way, the bicycle handlebar needs to go left and right for you to have balance, he suggests.

“Once you start cycling, you can always use the bicycle to go and get groceries. Otherwise, a 30-minute cycle ride everyday will help you to have some exercise. Remember always to wear a helmet to protect yourself.

A strong votary of helmet for cyclists, Randall says, “It saves up to 75 per cent of injuries. Cycling on a flat road or downhill is fun and helps in the leg muscles, but if you cycle slightly uphill, you will feel that it is a workout even for your hands and chest.”

He advises to “Do it even for some time daily or weekly, to keep healthy and save the environment by cutting fuel consumption.”

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