Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

German envoy advocates to adopt cycling in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, July 05 (DNA): German Ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck
advocating the adoption of cycling habit in Pakistan said the practice
has diversified health and financial advantages for individuals in
particular and a country’s environment at large.

“The habit of cycling provides an excellent opportunity to clear mind
and thoughts, besides its other healthy and nature friendly benefits”
the envoy who is in love with cycling shared his feelings in an
exclusive interview with state-run media Sunday.

He said the reasons behind advocating to build the bike-habit here in
Pakistan was certainly his love for cycling and its long lasting
positive impacts on humans’ lives and it can also drive green
development on earth.

Bernhard said, “I think there is a lot to be gained from a good bike
ride. It’s also environmental-friendly and zero-carbon emission
transport as well as a great practical and almost cost-free mode of
conveyance.

On a query to how we can establish a bike-culture in Pakistan, he said,
“I’m always somewhat skeptical about notions like bike-culture. I do not
really think we need a bike-culture in Pakistan, but an appreciation of
what is already here – so that a bike is not merely considered as a
minus to a motorbike or a car, but valuable in itself.” It also
encourages strong human connectivity as people on automobiles do not
interact with each other on roads, he added.

To another question whether cycling can offer a solution to urban
transport and traffic chaos, the envoy said, it was a long term
perspective but certainly reducing private fossil fuel driven transport
within cities to contest constant traffic gridlocks and environmental
hazards it must be one of the near term targets of contemporary urban
planning.

“And cycling here has an ever bigger role to play, no doubt about that,”
endorsing the idea he remarked.

Schlagheck, stressing upon youth to adopt practical sport activities,
said the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced the significance of the cycling
as the exercise helps build strong immune system which was imperative to
fight against viral diseases and seasonal epidemics.

While appreciating the weather and scenic beauty of the federal capital
Islamabad, he said “ It is a wonderful city, having a lot to see that
offers sufficient places to the people to engage themselves in
activities like cycling, jogging, hiking and tracking on the beautiful
Margalla Hills, especially during this natural calamity of coronvirus”.

The ambassador also gave some expert tips for cyclists in hot summer and
said, long distance pedaling be avoided and short to moderate trips were
recommended in full sun light. “Sufficient intakes of nutrients and
fluids to the body before and after cycling was a must to avoid season’s
wrath” he stressed.

Commenting on the riding conditions here for the cyclists, he said, “I
can hardly speak for the rest of the country since I am cycling
basically only in Islamabad. Here, I think, the conditions are
sufficiently good though, as with most things, there may be room for
improvement.”

It was pleasing to know, he said, that the ICT administration and the
Commissioner’s office were engaged in setting up dedicated cycling lanes
in Islamabad which was a promising and welcome development.

He also praised the Federal Government and Special Assistant to the
prime minister Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari for taking special interest
in promoting environmental-friendly mobility models in Islamabad and
elsewhere in Pakistan. “This realization and initiatives are certainly
going to help enhance number of pedalers across the country” he hoped.

Replying to a question about how to motivate the people for cycling, the
ambassador said, politicians had a particular responsibility here to
create awareness among masses about the benefits of bicycling. The
government and public administration’s hands should be strengthened to
encourage people to adopt such activities for health reasons at least.

The envoy also pointed out limitation of using a bicycle as an official
routine transportation mode, the idea pleaded in Pakistan’s social media
and said, “If the President of Pakistan is receiving you for submitting
Ambassadorial credentials, you would not appear at the President House
on a bike, would you? There are also security aspects to be considered.
And courtesy and hygiene require you won’t enter Parliament or
Ministries with sweating body. So, it’s a matter of prudent
consideration.”

Bernhard also shared his pride-ride, his grandfather’s 80-year old
bicycle, which he owns and said “Whenever possible I take my bike to go
to Foreign Ministry, located not that far from the German Embassy. It’s
always both a bit cumbersome and funny to convince the MFA guards to let
me in, but we usually share a good laugh and they used to inquire about
my bicycle which is indeed quite old, whether it is from Pakistan and
where I bought it. In fact, it’s from Germany. I have been owning this
treasure for almost 40 years and used it in Moscow, Rome, Africa, and
now in Islamabad. I think it’s great piece to link with my biography and
responsibilities here as German Ambassador to Pakistan.” DNA

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