Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bike-Free Zone

I've been accustomed to viewing non-US societies as substantially more bicycle dependent than we are in the US.  It becomes easy to judge the first world as car crazy and so wealthy that bicycles are a third best alternative (car, then public transit, then . . .).

After a week in Lebanon, including one day in the capital Beirut, I am placated just a tad by the American situation.  In Lebanon, nary a bicycle in sight.  That in the affluent neighborhoods of Kaslik and Jounieh.  That on or around the college campuses of Universite Saint Esprit, American University in Beirut, and Universite Saint Josef.  That in the mountains north and east of town.  And that in the metropolitan city of Beirut.

OK, I saw two bikes.  At the end of the day I spent walking around Beirut, as I headed back northeast toward Kaslik along the very local-feeling Gemmayzeh Street, one commuter passed me on a city-bike of the ilk one might expect to see in Paris or D.C.  I was too slow to snap a picture.  The other?  Mounted on top of a Mercedes held for sale behind plate glass at the Mercedes dealership along Charles Helou, the major cross-town boulevard.

Still too few.  Not that some aren't trying.

I saw other such signs, too, but -- no bikes.  Huh.
Perhaps obviously, it says "Beirut by Bike."

No comments: