Updated: Jun 1, 2022
Hi everyone! I’m Elham, a new collaborator with BUX and now excited to share my cycling experiences. I’m interested in sustainability in urban environment, and after a B. Sc in civil and environmental engineering, I’ve recently started studying a master’s in transport planning. In this post, I will explain my observations on cycling experience in two Iranian cities I’ve lived.
For the last few years I have lived in Tehran ,the capital city, but spent this summer in my hometown, Borujerd, in order to survive tough times of the pandemic. To do so, I found cycling as a safe sport there. Cycling had been inspiring me for some time before, when during a project, I used to scrutinize several bicycle manuals. Back into the town, general characteristics of urban environment encouraged me as well. In fact, neighborhood infrastructures gave me an assurance to choose cycling as an attractive mode to move around the city and beyond, although it was much harder to ride a bike in rush hours of the day. There, I joined a group of cyclists who would go on morning rides out of the town into the plains of Zagros Mountains. On the way, I could feel comfortable to ride my bike and even take time to enjoy the surrounding views, thinking no factor was involved in this, except for the limited number of vehicles passing along. However, cyclists were advised riding on the right side of the rural roads, so as not to get hit by the cars. Making room for vehicles was absolutely more important back into the town, where even if vehicles didn’t have much speed, the high number of them would make cyclists less confident, and wayfinding less assured, especially at intersections.
During my rides, I realized that cycling not only offers the freedom of movement pedestrians take advantage of, but also provides cyclists with higher speed which I found really pleasant. It also gave me an opportunity to talk to and get to know my fellow cyclists on the way, people who I hadn’t known before. We even used to discuss things along the way out of the town thanks to the constant movement of bicycles, so this unique feature of cycling may have unconsciously made me socialize. However, communications on the urban streets could have been inconvenient due to the noise pollution by the vehicles. Overall, cycling was more of an enjoyable sport for me, rather than a daily transport to commute.
Here in Tehran, the urban environment hasn’t encouraged me to cycle so far. To illustrate, less public spaces and lots of cars with really high speed can make it hard to think about cycling as a mode of transportation. As a result, driving a car or using public transport may be much more convenient. At the same time, more bikeways are being made, however, the city is still built for cars and motor cycles. Observing the bicycle lanes, they do not seem to do their best since very few people actually use them. In fact, the high number of motor vehicles make it difficult for cycling traffic flows to be channelized and cyclists prefer to ride on low-traffic boulevards, shortcuts and sidewalks.
At the end, it is worth mentioning that every time riding a bike, I’ve experienced a better feeling after the ride. I could feel fresh and ready to get things done, and I think this is the magic of cycling!