Beirut is not a particularly bike-friendly city. In spite of this fact in the fall I decided that a bike would give me a much needed exercise option for this year. While my riding has been limited to weekends due to work and traffic issues, the opportunity to ride once or twice a weekend has been great.
Getting to know the neighborhoods of Beirut has been one of the benefits of riding here. Most weekends I ride with friend and colleague Phil, and we often head onto the side streets of various sections of Beirut; Achrafiyeh, Gemmayzeh, Verdun, Borj Hammoud.
Each section of town has its own personality and appeal, and most still have some remnants of the old city intact. Beirut is quite hilly, so we get a nice workout chugging up the hills. Thanks in large part to these weekends cruising the neighborhoods of Beirut, I know the city quite well.
As I mentioned, Beirut is not very bike friendly. The traffic is heavy, drivers are not always on the look out for bikers, and there is always the chance a scooter will come screaming out of a side street, often going the wrong way, with little regard for anyone but themselves. Riding here is a very defensive act. Thus, rides are always early on weekend mornings when traffic is at its lightest.
In spite of the drawbacks to biking in Beirut, I have enjoyed riding here. It has been a main source of exercise, and riding along the Corniche, with the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean for a backdrop, is a memory I will hold onto well after I sell this bike and leave Beirut.