On Sunday, Cairo Governor Khaled Abdel-Aal visited a model of the first bicycle stop that is going to be deployed around Cairo by mid-July.
Cairo Bike is a project that aims to encourage and promote the use of bicycles as an alternative means of transportation.
The project is the first bike sharing system to be implemented by the government in Egypt.
Abdel-Aal said that the project is being implemented by the governorate in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and Swiss non-profit Drosos Foundation with technical support and supervision by the Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP).
A group of Egyptian and Danish firms has been chosen to operate the project.
The Governor shared the news in an official statement in which he stressed that this project comes in line with Egypt’s preparations to host the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP27), which will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh this November.
Cairo has strived to support the integration of transportation, health, and environmental practises to reduce harmful emissions in the capital.
Abdel-Aal also added that the design of the stations, bikes, and their mobile applications has already been completed.
The project is initially starting with a fleet of 500 bikes, all equipped with GPS trackers and distributed at 45 stations near metro stations and public transportation lines in Zamalek, Garden City, and Downtown.
The first phase of the project will include 250 bicycles distributed over 26 stations.
The second phase will distribute an additional 250 bicycles over 19 stations.
Additionally, all stations are set to be powered by solar energy and secured with surveillance cameras.
Users of Cairo Bike will have the option to either subscribe online or sign up by visiting the project’s information desk, which will be located in Tahrir Square.
Then, an app will direct them to the nearest bike station, where they can unlock the bike with their smartphones.
Once they finish cycling and return the bike to the nearest station, their total will be calculated based on how long their trip was.
The project depends on the presence of a large network of points where bikes are available for public use through the mobile application at low prices starting from EGP 1/hr or through a prepaid card, which will be available in certain locations.
The name Cairo Bike was chosen after many consultations between the governorate, NGOs, cycling groups, and those interested in environmental issues.
The project — which was delayed after first being introduced in 2017 — brings an alternative, environmentally friendly means of public transportation in Downtown and its surrounding areas, which are known for their traffic congestion and gridlocked streets.
The trial phase will begin in Zamalek, Garden City, and Downtown before expanding to other areas.
Cairo Bike’s services will be subsidised for the first five years after the project’s implementation to ensure that the service is affordable for all.
Furthermore, bicycle lanes are expected to be established soon as part of the state’s new infrastructure plan — a move that would help increase the number of bike riders on the streets of the capital.
The government, however, is yet to announce the specifics of this project, including where the cycle lanes will be placed and when they expect to finish them.
Previously, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi emphasised the importance of physical activity in general and cycling in particular for people’s health.
Moreover, over the recent years, the government has developed effective strategies and messaging to encourage people to change their behaviour and use bicycles instead of motorised means of transportation.
For example, the government launched an initiative in 2019 titled ‘A bike for every citizen’, in which the Ministry of Youths and Sports said that hundreds of thousands of bikes would be distributed to the public to help lower pollution levels as well as decrease traffic congestion in urban areas.
Some 100,000 bikes were handed out in the first phase of the initiative, and the ministry pledged to deliver a bike to all students at select universities.
Bike-sharing schemes have been showing promising results as key urban strategies for sustainable transportation and have taken off around the world.
Hopefully, this unique project will make its mark in Egypt as a steppingstone towards a healthier lifestyle for all.
Since transportation is one of Egypt’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and with millions of cars crowding the streets of Egypt, improving air quality is at the forefront of the government’s environmental priorities.