09 — Syria

Yalla, Let’s Bike

Women are defying traditional gender roles and combatting overcrowded streets by promoting bicycling as a healthy and sustainable mode of transportation in the war-ridden city of Damascus.

The Project

In 2013, Sarah Zein began cycling to avoid the traffic congestion in Damascus, Syria.
What should have been a normal bike ride to and from work was interrupted by verbal sexual harassment from bystanders. This motivated her to co-found "Yalla Let's Bike" (Come on Let's Bike), an initiative that aims to defy traditional gender roles, combat overcrowded streets, and promote cycling as a healthy and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Key Facts

  1. Over 4,000 girls and women have participated in “Yalla Let’s Bike” cycling events;
  2. According to bike shop owners in Damascus, women and girls have made up 40 percent of buyers in the last two years;
  3. Bicycle sales have risen by 60% overall in the last few years in Damascus.
  4. Special Paths for bicycles were established for the first time in Syria in coordination with Damascus Governorate.
  5. Special bicycle parking places in coordination with Damascus Governorate.
  6. 132 female trainees were prepared to cycle confidently on the road, during the “16 days of Activism to end violence against women” campaign/UNFPA.
  7. 32 volunteers (males and females) were trained to become bicycle coaches.

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