Lebanese don’t only share food, but bikes too

After years of despair and envy, the European culture may finally be hitting Beirut, with the new official bike-sharing system that was launched in Downtown earlier this January.

The pioneers behind the project were Bike 4 All, backing the project in collaboration with Beirut by Bike and the Municipality of Beirut.

With no burden on any entity, Bike 4 All set up the first station on the space provided by the municipality and have planned to turn their wheels to 25 other stations around the country by the year 2020.

The project may seem fruitful and hopeful, but is the infrastructure well enough to sell-out the concept?

Bike 4 All aims to take a bottom-up approach by investing stations near universities to raise a cycle culture amongst the younger generation, who are aware of the toxic effects of their daily drives to campus.

All what’s left is additional cooperation and a joint effort of the many municipalities in Beirut to create bike lanes for all enthusiasts to feel safe while cycling their way through the town.

In light of the progress, Outlook spoke to The Chain Effect, a Lebanese community pushing for a cycling culture in Beirut through the use of new forms of expression; such as painted walls, installations, and projects.

“We love the initiative, it is a terrific way to get people to be more familiar with the idea of urban cycling (specifically with cars around). It will surely remove one of the barriers that are preventing people from cycling around the city. We hope it is well planned, affordable enough to be attractive and picks up quickly,” said Nadida Raad on behalf of The Chain Effect team.

As of the year 2014, The Chain Effect have dedicated their efforts to spread awareness by painting several walls around Beirut, Tripoli, and Batroun.

They have painted 18 colorful walls, with one of the nearest to AUB students being located on the wall of Casper and Gambini’s AUBMC branch.

When asked about the future of the cycling culture in Beirut, Raad said that, “In our opinion, it is blossoming but very slowly. The efforts that are being made by cycling enthusiasts isn’t enough. We need companies and educational institutes to cooperate and provide facilities to encourage people to cycle more (shower, lockers, bicycle parkings…).”

The Chain Effect are currently working on a project to induce this culture but, before we get there, many barriers must first be resolved.

Little by little, the Lebanese community may forget about fuel and live eco-friendly with the help of many new initiatives blooming in the area.

Since this is far from the habits many Beiruti citizens are used to, the first step is to teach the youngest children in schools about the importance of bicycles in maintaining a better, healthier atmosphere.

*article originally written for AUB Outlook on February 7, 2017*