BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri Sunday officially launched the capital’s new bike-sharing system in Downtown Beirut, christening the initiative with a ride through the city center along newly drawn biking lanes. “I congratulate all of you, the bikers who are here today, we hope to make Beirut as you want it to be – an environmentally friendly city, just as the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri wanted it to be,” Hariri said during the opening ceremony, referring to his father who was assassinated in 2005, according to a statement office’s release.
The prime minister then went for a spin with dozens of other riders.
A “large number of citizens,” including Beirut Gov. Ziad Chebib and MP Nadim Gemayel were present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Downtown.
The project, named “Lebanon Bike Sharing System – Bike 4 All,” is a collaboration between the Municipality of Beirut and the organizations Bike 4 All and Beirut by Bike. The latter two have been the principal financiers of the initiative, while the municipality has provided space for the bike stations around the city.
All universities in Beirut are set to receive a station with 12 bicycles, each fitted with a GPS device. Depending on the popularity of the initiative, other stations may be added. No fees will be charged in the first year of the project, to encourage the public to use the bikes, involved parties said.
Issam Kaskas, an adviser to the Beirut governor, previously told The Daily Star that affordability was a priority, as the project is geared toward wallet-conscious students commuting through the city.
In the future, payment for the service will be implemented via specialized prepaid cards, bank cards and student IDs. The decision to avoid cash payments is intended to guarantee secure transactions. Plans to expand to serve commuters outside of Beirut are also in the works.
At Sunday’s event, Hariri pledged to hold “no car days” to promote the use of the ecofriendly bike system. “We will organize, in the future, events in which bikes will be used instead of cars,” he said. “We hope to see you always happy with Beirut, which is the jewel of Lebanon and the Middle East.”