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Two-wheels appeal in Cairo

Friday, October 31, 2014 - 02:07

It's a high-risk activity, but cycling in Cairo and its chaotic streets is becoming more and more popular - with a new small business in the city offering custom-made bicycles that are not just sturdy, but trendy.

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Cairo. Often in the top ten of mega cities worldwide - but for the wrong reasons. Traffic and the smog it generates are two problems for which it's famous. Here, though, a quiet revolution may be under way. Two enterprising enthusiasts are riding a swell in popularity for two wheels rather than four. (SOUNDBITE) (English) C0-FOUNDER OF AIN BICYCLE SHOP, DIRK WANROOIJ, SAYING: "I think in general we are witnessing an upsurge in the use of bicycles in Cairo. You see it more and more, that five years ago when I came to Egypt; we didn't see bicycles at much. Now I think it's a growing phenomena amongst the Shabab (young people). For us, we started with friends. We started one, we started another one we did another one, then did another one and then you can say in the last month our company itself has been growing. We have been seeing a lot more customers. People contacting us for requests for what kind of bicycles we can do if we can make them this bicycles if we can make them that bicycles so we've been selling a lot more in the last couple of months." Dirk - originally from Amsterdam - set up his business Ain Bicycles along with Karim. Their USP is bikes specially made for the tough streets of Cairo. Along with the smog and the risk of respiratory disease, there's the everyday danger of the roads themselves. More than ten thousand people die in traffic accidents in Egypt every year. Dirk and Karim's bikes are fitted with extra wide tyres and good brakes. But accessories are mostly left out - because they can break. Cycling has been on the increase - in part thanks to events like '4 Bike Egypt' which took to the roads in June. Karim says more people should try it. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CO-FOUNDER OF AIN BICYCLE SHOP, KARIM ABDALLAH, SAYING: ''Instead of using a car and adding to congestion, I should leave my car and ride a bicycle. I'll reach my destination faster, I'll have a better view of Cairo and the streets, I'll see my neighbourhood with different eyes. In a car, you're focused on the traffic or the radio. You don't look at the streets, the people or the places. On a bike, you have a different feeling for the place you live in." Egypt spent around $24 billion on energy subsidies in its last fiscal year. The government wants to bring that figure down, but until does, fuel prices for motorists are still amongst the lowest in the world. Cycling still has a long road to travel - but its supporters are pedalling hard to get there.

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Two-wheels appeal in Cairo

Friday, October 31, 2014 - 02:07