Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bikes in Syria

This was a really cool report on the BBC Arabic about girls and women in Syria who are starting to bike. There are now bike lanes. Whoa!

The story starts with the infamous 'service' transportation vans, which are the norm if you don't have a car:

Now that there's been 3 years of war, and fuel prices are high, people can't even necessarily afford the service vans, and they're so crowded ...

... so some people have started biking:

I get so surprised by that picture! It doesn't look like a war zone, it looks like the US basically. It's so weird.

Even girls and women are biking. This is a big deal, because if you ask most Arab women (at least in my experience) they will tell you that after you become 13 or so, it's taboo for girls to bike. Boys will laugh at them if they do so. I don't really get what would be so taboo and awful about it, but probably the sheikhs have decreed that girls biking ruins their reproductive abilities. Any case, now in Syria, under the duress of the higher fuel prices, women are biking:

This lady says that not only is it great exercise, but she feels great and likes biking.

And this man says he thinks biking is the best way for girls to get around. That way, they can avoid being harassed by the noble, saintly Syrian male taxi drivers. He says that biking is the best way for girls to get to the university, and that he encourages all girls and his own daughters to do so.

The Syrian government is apparently giving students money so they can buy bikes. I don't know how they have money to do that. Maybe I heard wrong. And there are bike shops everywhere:

And near the universities, they have painted bike lanes:

I think this is the first time I see bike lanes in an Arab country.

And off they go:

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