Come your average day in car-congested Beirut, and the traffic jams that line the roads escalate both your levels of stress and subsequent road-rage,as well as the city’s already-impressive levels of air and noise pollution. However, brave the roads on a bicycle and you’ll be looking at a much more pleasant scenario: exercising your body and breaking a sweat instead of being stuck and sweating inside an unmoving vehicle, signaling others of your presence with a sweet-sounding bell rather than a honking horn, and investing in an eco-friendly mode of transportation to get you where you need to go. So it’s no wonder why some groups in Lebanon have been stepping up to promote biking as an alternate, and much more beneficial, means of transportation.

Deghri Messengers, the Middle East’s first bike-delivery service, was born in 2013 when partners Matt Saunders and Karim Sokhn wanted to prove that biking need not be purely recreational, but can also be an efficient means of professional transportation for businesses. Its local bike messengers can swiftly deliver anything up to 60 kilograms between Dahieh and Dbayye, passing by central Beirut and its suburbs.

Zein Soubra, who has been working for Deghri Messengers since the summer of 2014, notes the challenges faced by messengers during their commutes, including potholes, reckless drivers, and getting “doored” should their bikes slam into a quickly-opened car door. Sokhn also cites adverse weather as a potential danger. However, Soubra hasn’t let these risks get him down, and has remained a part of the Deghri Messengers, motivated by the health and environmental benefits of biking and describing the team as his family. Reviews have described Deghri Messengers as efficient, reliable, affordable, and friendly. So if you need to pick up groceries, dry-cleaning, or anything else within a reasonable weight range without stepping foot out the door, give them a call: working hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Saturday from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

While Deghri Messengers promotes biking through business, members of The Chain Effect have taken it upon themselves to promote biking through street-art.

The Chain Effect consists of the bike-riding trio Elena Haddad, Zeina Hawa, and Hadrien Bchara, who completed their first piece as a just-for-fun art project reading “if you rode a bicycle, you’d be there by now!” Much to their surprise, it quickly gained more media attention than expected, which set off an aptly-named chain effect as photos of it were shared on pages in different countries and became a topic of discussion on the internet.

Since then, The Chain Effect has successfully completed ten similar “murals” in Beirut, spanning over Hamra, Clemenceau, Mar Mikhael and other locations. Haddad says that they often wake up early to begin working on their pieces, “and the most inspiring time is when the city starts waking up and people start passing by and giving us praise and encouragement. You really feel like you’re getting the idea across.”

The Chain Effect hopes to connect bicycle-riders and already-existing bike organizations, and to create a page with a Humans-of-New-York-vibe featuring photographs of cyclists in Lebanon, with the logic that people seeing other people cycling would encourage them. While Haddad is the first to admit that Beirut isn’t the most bike-friendly city, she notes that “it’s actually safe if you know the calmer roads to take, so it’s more a question of getting used to Beirut and its streets.”

Check out Deghri Messenger’s website and Facebook page, and The Chain Effect’s Facebook page and follow them on Instagram at @the.chain.effect - also, a word from all cyclers: don’t forget to wear your helmet!

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