Lebanon: Cycling culture gains ground as fuel runs dry

 Lebanon: Cycling culture gains ground as fuel runs dry

Cycling culture gains ground in Lebanon as fuel runs dry

Beirut, 24 June: Traffic in Lebanon has always been extremely chaotic, recent fuel shortages have led to dystopian scenarios, from people sleeping in their cars to buy petrol as soon as gas stations open, to horrific traffic accidents caused by disorienting long lines.

This added daily struggle has driven many to the brink of desperation, with some seeking alternative solutions to their daily commute.

“I receive at least three calls a day from friends and acquaintances asking me whether I know a place that sells cheap bicycles,” says Natheer Halawani, an entrepreneur branded the “Bicycle Mayor of Tripoli”.

He says the recent fuel fiasco has added to people seeking cheaper and less draining ways of navigating the city to get through their daily commute.

Even those who never considered it before are now convinced of its benefits.

“The cycling culture is growing big time in Lebanon,” says Mohamad Hawi from the capital Beirut. “I personally, considered a lazy dude, am going to get one.”

Melissa Khattar, who oversees the reconstruction of houses in Beirut, found an e-bicycle to be ideal to navigate the city.

“I often have to go from one place to another, overseeing places or sometimes even buying a specific item needed for construction,” Khattar says.

As she lives outside of Beirut, she drives her car to the city then switches to her Wave e-bike for the day, then drives back home in her car.

Because the e-bike does not require a lot of effort, she can cycle everywhere, avoid traffic, yet still look presentable.

Halawani was appointed Bicycle Mayor of Tripoli by the Amsterdam-based social enterprise BYCS, which is driven by the belief that bicycles transform cities.

Read more: Causes of Lebanon’s financial meltdown

Lebanon’s struggling with a deep economic crisis after successive governments piled up debt following the 1975-1990 civil war with little to show for their spending binge.

Web Desk

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