Is Bicycle Sharing Coming to Beirut?

"beirut bike sharing"Could a bike sharing system work in Beirut?

Bicycle sharing has become all the rage in certain cities in the past few years, ever since the Parisians got the trend going with the Vélib’ shared bike rental system approximately three years ago.  In the Middle East, Nicosia implemented a bike sharing system a few weeks ago, Tel Aviv and Doha have recently started bike sharing systems, and now the Lebanese Prime Minister is suggesting that it may be on his mind as well.

In a tweet a couple weeks ago (yes, he tweets), Prime Minister Najib Mikati wrote that “the example of Vélib’ rental bikes in Paris is interesting for Beirut to be more ecologically/pedestrian friendly and reduce traffic.  Agree?!”

Judging by the number of campaigns advocating for sustainable transportation that have been held in Beirut recently, there is a solid group of Beirut residents who would agree with Mikati.

“I was equally thinking in terms of preserving the environment, reducing the pollution, decongesting the traffic, facilitating tourist’s mobility and pursuing the sustainable development of our urban cities, among many other national priorities,” Mikati said.

The question is, is Beirut ready for a bike sharing system?

Bikes are becoming more popular in Beirut, and there are even new bike lanes along Beirut’s waterfront district, but the current urban infrastructure may not allow for a large-scale fleet of cyclists.  Mikati believes, though, that a pilot system could be started in downtown Beirut where the infrastructure allows for it, and expanded from there.

Wael Hmaidan, the director of IndyACT (a group of independent activists) agrees, and said that “thinking of alternative transport is a step in the right direction.  Lebanon needs to reduce its dependence on the private car.”

: Daily Star

Read more about alternative forms of transportation in Beirut::
Darreja Campaign Encourages Sustainable Transportation in Lebanon
An Insider’s Guide to Exploring Beirut by Bike
BeBeirut Offers Eco-Friendly Tours in Lebanon’s Capital

Image via: Petteri Sulonen

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