ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Friday, Nov. 30, Erbil will host the first ever "Ride On!" international cycling marathon co-sponsored by Kurdistan 24, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and others. Many would-be participants have already registered online for this event.
Cyclists will start pedaling at 2:30 pm at the Gulan intersection on Ainkawa Road and will race a 3.2-kilometer distance to Chaikhanay Machko in the heart of the city center, right in front of the famous Erbil citadel.
Over 200 racers have enrolled so far to participate in an occasion organizers hope will be a major step in actively promoting cycling culture in the Kurdistan Region.
Erbil, until now, is not what cyclists would call a "bike-friendly" city, with streets devoid of specialized bike lanes many other cities worldwide have added to safely encourage the healthful activity.
Cycling is common among children and teenagers in the Kurdistan Region, but almost none of them continue the activity as they grow into adults.
But some activists, foreign diplomats, and more recently, a newly-elected Kurdish lawmaker have all been working to raise awareness and acceptance of the activity, hoping to make it a more standard activity for all ages.
Cycling is "a normal culture in many parts of the world," MP Jalal Pareshan said in early November. "Almost all the doctors have emphasized that it is the best sport for our health. It is also important for the environment," he said, pointing out that that it's a so-called "green" form of transportation, in addition to the obvious health benefits enjoyed by those who take part.
Editing by John J. Catherine