Cycling in Cairo can be a tough concept; it’s no secret that our streets don’t look biker-friendly. Nonetheless, bike riders are growing increasingly enthusiastic about the idea, which is an ideal solution for many problems in Cairo, such as traffic and pollution.
Let’s not forget the fitness benefits too: after a long day at work and excessive nervous tension caused by driving in noisy Cairo traffic, riding your bike even if just for a spin around the block seems extremely relaxing.
On the other hand, biking can be a bit risky in Cairo’s pollution, which can have its toll on the cyclist with the influx of toxic car fumes and intolerable heat. Don’t let that be a turn off, though; if the bike ride takes place at a reasonable hour (early mornings or late evenings) and in a suitable location, there’s no reason to worry.
Several shops in Cairo specialise in biking equipment and accessories, while several Facebook groups organise weekly bike outings and excursions.
First, to set yourself with a new bike, check out Bescletta in Heliopolis and Rehab City. This shop has all kinds of road and mountain bicycles ranging from regular amateur bikes to new BMW models that vary in frames and materials. Their customer service is especially attentive; and they offer to deliver to your doorsteps the bike model that you’ve picked online.
Now the biggest question is: where exactly do you bike in Cairo?
If you can afford a membership to a private sporting club; then problem solved. If not, it’s not completely impossible to find a good biking spot. Bike-friendly areas include the area around the Giza Pyramids, Al Rehab City, Katameya Heights, and compounds in 6 of October like Gardenia and Al Rabwa. The Garden City Corniche and Kasr El Nil Bridge make for picturesque trips; but try to cycle on an early Friday morning and avoid weekday traffic. Quiet neighbourhoods like Degla in Maadi (try Road 254 or the quiet neighbourhoods around the Canal Street) or Masaken Sheraton in Heliopolis would be great for a spin on a Friday morning also.
Under all circumstances, try to avoid cycling on highways, bridges or main streets, all of which could be extremely dangerous due to the speed and recklessness of driving patterns there. Quite streets would be the safest choice for a harmless bike ride.
If biking alone bores you, a number of Facebook groups are promoting cycling in groups as a more challenging and fun activity. Cycle Egypt, part of Cycle Earth group on Facebook, sees cycling as more than just a sport; it’s a way out of global warming and energy crisis problems.
Cycle Egypt has eleven subgroups, each for an Egyptian governorate or Cairene neighbourhood. The groups arrange cycling outing on weekends when streets in Cairo are in their emptiest and friendliest state. You don’t even have to own a bike; the group provides rental bicycles that can be collected from one of many locations throughout Cairo. Another group that organises riding outings is Bicycles in Cairo, biking mostly in Heliopolis and on Fridays as well. Also, check out the Cairo Cyclists Club's blog for inspiration.
Cycling is a fun and healthier transportation alternative that gives back to the city, however small a contribution it may be. Take the appropriate precautions before riding a bike: a helmet is strongly recommended, as are knee pads. Try to wear bright clothes, always have a bottle of water within your reach, and make sure that your bike has a light if you’re planning on biking at night.