Is the solution to Lebanon’s reliance on carbon emitting personal vehicles as simple as a two-wheeler? [image via: mozzoom]
One hundred and fifty cyclists demonstrated how easy it could be to cycle through Beirut on Saturday morning, starting at Biel and going to the Luna Park – Manara and back. The eco-friendly protest, led by Fast Forward, was part of the Darreja Campaign to improve Lebanon’s transportation system and make it more sustainable. Fast Forward is a new advocacy group that is promoting sustainable, alternative forms of transportation (such as public transit, cycling, and walking) in Lebanon.
The event was also organized by IndyACT (who put together a cycling red carpet event last year), the Netherlands Embassy, and Beirut by Bike (who provided free bike rentals for the protest). The name “Darreja” is a play on words that combines the Arabic words for “bicycle” and “trend” – hoping, of course, to make cycling trendy.
The impetus for the protest came from the fact that Lebanon (and particularly Beirut) is highly crowded with private vehicles. Improved public transportation and urban planning would reduce congestion and pollution.
“The transportation sector, in its present state, has become a source of negative impact on both the environmental and social level, and it has become one of the obstacles facing sustainable development in Lebanon today. Based on that it became necessary to develop an integrated national plan for the management of this sector,” said Ali Fakhry, Communications Officer at IndyACT.
Beyond Darreja, the first of Fast Forward’s campaigns, the organization plans on putting together similar events in the future in order to get their green message across and inspire action from the Lebanese authorities.
Lily Abi-Chahine, an organizer activist who participated in the Darreja Campaign, said that “the participation of individuals in this event reflects their desire for a swift and conclusive solution for the traffic and pollution problems. Using bicycles is a first step that we encourage, just like using public transports and carpooling.”
Read more about cycling:
A Quick Guide to Traveling by Bike in the Middle East
Cycling for Peace as Israeli Arabs, Jews and Bedouins Kids Get Free Bikes and Clubs
Israeli Designer Yinnon Lehrer Encourages Urban Biking with Vertical Bike Racks