In the Cairo suburb of Maadi a group of young people organizes cycling events to promote cycling as a sport and a means of transportation.
''We aim to help people discover new places in Maadi, especially the Maadi residents who often don't know every place and sometimes get lost due to the similarity of the streets that are shaded by huge trees. Moreover, we want to revive the concept of sport in the minds of people,” said Khaled Shouman, President of the Maadi Club Youth Committee (MCYC).
The MCYC is the organizer of the cycling carnivals held in Maadi. The first of the so far eight events – of which part of the income goes to charity – was arranged in April 2011.
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“We were concerned about many things, including people's interest in coming to our very first event. They thought that someone would get tired or harassed or hit by a car, but thankfully nothing like this happened,” Khaled said.
“People of all ages were extremely excited about that event… The only thing they complained about was the quality of the bikes. So we changed the bikes afterwards,” said Merna Aboulenin, one of the organizers.
These events have made it possible for a lot of cyclists to ride around Maadi’s streets without stress. They provide a way to escape from Cairo’s traffic and the daily routine in their school, college or work.
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''We create some kind of path for every cycling event and also a place to have a break. We generally pass through meeting points like Degla, Street 9, Grand Mall and Zahraa El Maadi,” Merna said.
Although cycling is known only as a sport in Egypt, hopefully in the future it will turn into a means of transportation that can help reduce traffic and noise pollution. But this requires bike lanes and campaigning.
“Our aim is to promote the advantages of cycling, things like how it can be a solution for car traffic and how healthy you will be when you cycle. Some people got encouraged after our cycling events and decided to go to their work by bike,'' Khaled said.
“I think people will get more encouraged by going to work by bike if we started ourselves,” Merna added.
The group has plans to do more to promote a healthier living in Egypt, including a sports day with cycling, running and aerobics.
“I know some people who may say why would I go cycling, while I have the chance to stay at home and have some sleep in my weekend. Well in fact, you will definitely change your opinion, since you will get the opportunity of knowing new people or seeing people you haven't seen for ages, and eventually you will discover new places,” Khaled concluded.
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