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Cycling for a sustainable city

The National Campaign for Sustainable Transportation and Critical Mass Beirut hold a Cycling Parade in Beirut

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” Judging from the convivial vibe and the happy, satisfied smiles on the faces of the about 250 cyclists who joined in the Cycling Parade on Sunday, they’d all agree with John F. Kennedy’s take on riding a bicycle.

“We did have a small accident, a collision,” Alyaa Fouani admitted after the ride, throwing a guilty glance at her friend, Juliet Berro, whose tricycle she collided with. “You see, I didn’t have brakes, oh and I briefly lost my saddle riding up Charles Helou too.”

Fouani was one of about 30 intrepid tricyclists who completed the ride in celebration of the National Campaign for Sustainable Transportation (NCST)’s first anniversary as well as the 20th anniversary of Critical Mass, an event that first took place in San Francisco in 1992 and has since then sprung up in over 300 cities around the globe.

In exchange of an ID, participants without bicycles could hire one for free from Beirut by Bike at the Waterfront. The process of registration, while cumbersome, made it possible for the ride to reach the numbers it did – about two thirds arrived wheel-less.

“Critical Mass is not an organisation, it’s a voluntary event,” explains Mohammad Shublaq, who participates in the monthly Critical Mass Beirut (CMB) rides and helped organize Sunday’s Cycling Parade.

“There are usually between a minimum of two to up to 25 cyclists. The idea is to be visible but we should attract more people, like workers, who use their bicycle as a daily means of transport, instead of just people who identify with the idea and don’t use their bikes as a regular means of transport.”


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