Thursday, April 29, 2010

Levantine bicycles

Just back from some time spent in Lebanon and Syria.

Beirut is quite possibly the least bicycle-friendly place I have ever seen, with steep hills, incredible numbers of road blocks and seemingly no enforcement of parking rules, or maybe there just aren't any parking rules. Garbage from public trash cans, however, is collected by customized trikes (below).

Damascus in Syria, which on the whole seems much poorer than Beirut and where transport infrastructure shows evidence of more stringent planning, has far more bicyclists. (Number of bicyclists is not an indicator of what the political system is like, I hasten to add. In this respect, Syria is Mordor.) While the few heroic pedal pushers in Beirut mostly used Taiwan-made MTBs, the Syrians mostly go for Chinese "Phoenix"-brand classic bikes (below).

In both Beirut and Damascus, I saw load-carrying bicycles with a sturdy front basket (below). These were mostly used by bread vendors.

The old town of Damascus boasts a stunning mosque and a of course a whole slew of jewelry shops. Being who I am, I was naturally far more intrigued by the amount of blacksmiths making tools and equipment on the spot, and found great pleasure in browsing the most fascinating hardware stores I have ever seen. Your humble correspondent below, trying to remember dimensions of some elusive screws he will surely regret not buying once he arrives home.


coastkid said...

welcome back!, looks an interesting workbikes...

Andy in Germany said...

Welcome back indeed. I've missed the posts.

That workbike for rubbish collection looks like a single speed too. Those dustbin men must be fitter than ours.

Anonymous said...

Good to see a new post, I was missing my Hermit fix.

Those rubbish collectors must be tough. And brave.

Did you get the right bolts?

Anonymous said...

å - du liker sånne sjapper som jeg liker, ikke ferdigpakkede bolter 5 av samme str. i liten plastpose, men.....finnes slike i Oslo i det hele tatt lenger? og hvor reparerer de sykkelbremser fort og bra og billig?(skive...)?
Finnes det kurs i Zen (eller kanskje Snowman) and the art of spring bicycle repair?

Mushing gyne uten bremser.....

Northmark said...

Wow, thanks for the welcome back!

I did not end up buying any screws, nervous, as always, that I would chose wrong ones.