On the well-known Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, over 20 orange-colored bicycles were lined up at a docking station for public sharing as the first bike-sharing project was inaugurated in the Egyptian capital on Thursday.
The Cairo Bike project was launched by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, accompanied by Cairo Governor Khaled Abdel-Aal. The first phase of the project includes 250 GPS-tracked bicycles in 26 solar-powered docking stations, while the total two-phase project will finally include a fleet of 500 bicycles in 45 stations across Cairo.
Local residents were excited to experience riding a bike in the crowded capital as each of them can enjoy the first ride for free during the first phase.
Ahmed Mahmoud, a local resident, described the experience as “amazing.”
“I have a car but when I go downtown, I take the underground metro. Now there are bike docking stations near metro stations, so I can use the metro to reach downtown and then ride a bike to go around and return it to the nearest docking station,” Mahmoud said.
Rania Sameh, an engineering student and one of the Cairo Bike team members, was among a group of people who rode bicycles together during the inauguration event.
“This bike-sharing system helps people reduce their dependency on cars. Along with public means of transport, these bicycles can be an eco-friendly alternative to cars,” she told Xinhua.
A resident can hire a bicycle for 1 Egyptian pound (about 0.05 U.S. dollars) per hour or 8 pounds per day through a mobile application or a prepaid card, with a discount for students.
The bike docking stations are installed near metro and bus stations, main squares, and public places to make it easy for citizens to find the nearest one before and after their bike trips.
The main stations will host 28 bicycles while smaller ones will have 8-10 bicycles. There are also new bike lanes created in several main streets of downtown Cairo to make bike riding safe.
Ahmed Arafa, a supervisor of the Cairo Bike project, explained that anyone who seeks to hire a bike should first install Cairo Bike app, register and add their Visa card or get a prepaid card from the Cairo Bike head office in downtown.
“It’s a good project, mainly targeting young people, but we found that many Egyptians of all ages are interested in our bike sharing,” Arafa told SAT.
The Cairo Bike project comes a couple of weeks ahead of Egypt’s hosting of the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh in November.
“Cairo Governorate is working hard to keep pace with modern developments and provide everything that would support the integration of environmentally-friendly transportation and facilitate healthy practices,” Abdel-Aal was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Cairo Governorate.
The project, launched by the Cairo Governorate in cooperation with the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), is funded by Switzerland’s Drosos Foundation and technically supported and supervised by the New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.