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FEATURE ❘ EGYPT


object of prejudice and harassment – which, when drivers come too close to the bike or cut in front of her in an attempt to scare her, can actually be dangerous. (No wonder some of Reem’s female companions on the Alexandria Corniche ride prefer to stay on the pavement.) Even so, the women won’t be put off. Last October dozens of Egyptian women in Cairo took to the road on bikes to assert their right to cycle, under the slogan ‘We Will Ride!’ ‘We dream,’ writes one of these women riders in her blog, ‘that one day we can go anywhere we want on a bicycle without fearing harassment.’ You don’t have to be a women’s rights campaigner, though, or a 90-mile triathlete, to cycle


for pleasure in Egypt. And you don’t need a lot of money. Last week in the modest Alexandria suburb of Sidi Bishr, I came upon an ancient bike parked outside an electrical repair shop. The whole contraption was decorated like a fairground ride, with ropes of coloured beads, bits of shiny glass, religious texts, badges and lucky charms. The proud owner, a teenager named Ahmed, had clearly spent hours turning his clapped- out machine into a work of art. He works at the repair shop, but in his spare time, he assured me, he cycles all over Alexandria. And no, he’s not in the least scared of riding in traffic. He looked puzzled in fact, when I asked, seeming to find the question foolish. All Egypt’s cyclists, from sports athletes to working-class commuters, to those who just


enjoy a short trip around city streets, have had to find their own ways of out-manoeuvring the traffic. One thing seems pretty clear with all of them: they’re not going to let a few crazy drivers stand in the way of their right to get on a bike. When you come down to it ‘We Will Ride!’ the slogan of the defiant Cairo women cyclists, is the slogan of them all.


INFORMATION: Some Egyptian cycling websites


www.bbbike.org/en/Cairo/ www. cairocyclists.wordpress.com www.cycle-egypt.com www.mtbegypt.com)


http://www.stopstreetharassment. org2013/10/wewillride


March 2015 l Cycling World


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