by Sawsan Tabazah – Dec 05,2016

AMMAN — A university student has launched an initiative to encourage the use of bicycles as sustainable, reliable and low-cost transport means.

Khaled Abd Al Nasser, a sixth year engineering student at Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT), said that ever since he started studying at the university, he has been trying to find a solution to the commute problem, which would take him long hours.

“My dad’s car, the university’s bus or even public transport means are not reliable, and I need something to use all the time…sometimes [as a student] you don’t have money for transportation and my dad’s car is not always available,” the 23-year-old told The Jordan Times.

The “Baskalet” initiative founder now imparts his biking experience through Snapchat and Instagram stories, encouraging people to shift from the use of cars and public transport to bicycles.

Through social media, Abd Al Nasser offers advice on how to deal with roads, especially the hilly ones, highlighting the pedalling techniques that should be used and the type of bikes to buy.

When he first began the initiative six months ago, the engineering student recalled that people said what he was suggesting was inapplicable, but now, many people are supporting it and others have started using bikes in their daily commute.

“Using the bicycle not only saves money, but is also an investment in my health,” Abd Al Nasser noted.

Amman has no special lanes for bikers and no traffic regulations, but “if you know how to ride a bike properly, it’ll be a piece of cake” he argued.

Abd Al Nasser stressed the importance of wearing a helmet and a reflective vest to ensure safety and using a bike that has gears due to the hilly nature of Amman.

The student is currently working on developing a network to connect university students who do not have cars, so that they give fellow students on the way a ride.

Central Traffic Department (CTD) Director Col. Yaser Harahsheh said the department encourages people to use bicycles, but the problem is that there are no specialised lanes available, besides the hilly streets.

“The use of bikes is rare, and I have never heard or dealt with bicycle accidents ever since I started work at the department,” Harahsheh noted.

Nebal Qattan, the director of King Abdullah II Park, the only place which has a special lane for bikers in Amman, said that the roads are used by very few people, speculating that the topography of the country makes it hard to bike in the streets.