Repairing cycling culture in Marrakech
Marrakech, the host city of the COP22 Climate Change conference, like many developing country cities faces many mobility challenges around road safety and vehicle emissions.
Richard Clarke, FIA Foundation researcher, attended the launch of one initiative that is trying to support sustainable mobility in Marrakech. Bicycles provide cheap & clean alternatives to scooters in the narrow streets of the Medina and cycling remains popular throughout the modern city as there are no hills. By improving supply and maintenance, Pikala aims to promote the use of bicycles as a widely accessible and viable urban alternative to motorised transport.
Alongside the training workshops Pikala organize bicycle tours for locals, bicycle donations to schools and have established a partnership with the Marrakech Biennale: Visitors to this year’s contemporary art festival are invited to use our customized bicycles to reach the venues scattered around the red city.
The launch event included a reception attended by the Dutch Environment minister, Sharon Dijksma, who took the opportunity to use the bikes to cycle around the old city. Pikala are also offering free bicycle repairs for locals, using a shipping container which has been converted to a repair workshop offering donated parts and with Dutch experts working in collaboration with local mechanics. The queues of local people, including many children waiting to use the service highlighted the need for such a service – particularly as Pikala observe that many of the repairs are to replace badly worn brakes.
Bicycles are a cheap, clean and healthy alternative to motorbikes. In Marrakesh, a large proportion of motorbikes have 2-stroke engines which cause air pollution associated with respiratory illness and that also release black carbon that exacerbates climate change.