Why Bicycles Will Never Work in Education City
September 25, 2013
By Amna Al-Saadi
The ongoing construction—and the parking nightmare it has caused in Education City has forced students and faculty to look for alternative methods of moving between universities. One solution to deal with this mess was to add bicycles around EC for student and faculty use. Bicycles are probably the easiest and fastest way to travel around EC, but, I think that this is an unfitting and unsuitable solution for Doha.
From April to October the average daily high temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius. In this type of weather, no one should be exerting any energy, even for five minutes. Standing outside for just five minutes will melt your face. The exertion of riding a bicycle is intolerable. And no one wants to sit next to a smelly, sweaty student. Though the weather cools down from November to March, bicycles are still not the most prudent solution to moving around EC.
We usually see students with big, heavy textbooks, maybe a laptop and often other materials they need. How are students supposed to ride a bicycle while carrying all these items? The bicycles have no baskets to put the books in nor a rack on the backs. What’s the point of going to class without your books?
And, perhaps most important, let’s not forget about the cultural aspect of this. As a Qatari, I will never ride a bicycle. It is neither safe nor easy to ride a bicycle while wearing an abaya or a thoub. They can get tangled in the tires, and it’s not easy to peddle while wearing either attire. So, you have to either lift up your abaya and thoub or to tie it around your waist. But, people wear the abaya to cover up; tying it around your waist defeats it’s purpose. This, however, does not only apply to abayas and thoubs. Skirts and dresses are also not suitable to wear if you want to ride a bike.
Compared to taking the shuttle and walking, bicycles are probably the best solution for getting around campus – if we didn’t live in Doha. Unless you are lucky and able to catch a bus as soon as you come out of the building, you will have to wait at least 10 minutes before a shuttle arrives. If you want to walk from the Student Center to Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, that will take you at least 20 minutes. In this scorching heat, I wouldn’t recommend it. Bicycles might be the fastest way to get around, but, they’re not the most suitable solution in this environment or culture.