Lebanon roads. The problems and their solutions.

I don’t have to remind you that the situation of the Lebanese roads, and I don’t have to remind you how stressful it can be to drive a little distance. And I don’t have to remind you that a 5 min trip could sometimes take hours. And that it is really really annoying.
In 2011, U.S. commuters on average spend nearly a week stuck in traffic, I am sure that the Lebanese spend nearly thrice this amount.
A rainstorm caused heavy traffic congestion in Beirut on Friday. (NOW Lebanon)
A rainstorm caused heavy traffic congestion in Beirut on Friday. (NOW Lebanon)
What are the problem of our roads ?
1)Too much cars for a small town
Let’s compare two major cities. Beirut and Lyon.
Beirut has a metro area of 200km2, Lyon has a metro area of 3306km2.
The population of Beirut in its metro area is 2 millions, Lyon, 2 millions too.
Can you spot the difference ? By simple calculation : Lyon has 604.9 persons per km2, Beirut ? 10 000. It has a very high density.
Solution ?
A devel­oped coun­try is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use pub­lic trans­port
– para­phrased from Enrique Penalosa, for­mer Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia
Increased public transports will decrease the amount of cars, so the traffic would go smoother.
But first you have to implement better public transportation, I use them a lot, have I one time enjoyed it ? No, simply because it is not comfortable, yet I have seen and heard a lot of amazing stories in the bus, and it’s the only place where I see people stand up for letting elders and young ladies, we must understand that using public transportation is not a decrease in our dignity, nor our “prestige”.
A simple great GIF picture that explain this –> Click here
A decrease in the amount of cars will also help Beirut to be more green and less polluted.
Of course, this is a government problem and…well the ministry of transport is not very competent. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I have not seen or heard any improvement in the old “Jahesh el Dawle”.
2) The Urban Design of Beirut.
Beirut is not an organized city, we have not good pavements, so people have to often move near the middle of the road. Not only dangerous for pedestrians, it slows down traffic in little roads. + the huge amount of cars in a little space mentioned earlier.
Just take a look on a satellite on a huge city, New York, now look at its heart, Manhattan, now look at Beirut and how the roads are organized. Not the same cup of tea right ?
Changing the design of a city like Beirut is pretty complicated, some huge cities today have been reformed, like Paris. But that was more than 100 years ago. (click here for the Wikipedia article)  And I really don’t know. I am not an expert.  We can build tunnels and bridges to ease things up at big intersections, and it’s being done, the only problem is..next problem !
3) Constructions are badly organized.
the only problem that building them up takes A LOT of time, and create HUGE traffic jams, just take a look at Bshar El Khoury area or Mkaless area. I have felt that the traffic has went down in the Tayouneh area, after several years of traffic congestion there. So it is a solution turned into a problem.
Solution ?
Build them faster, build them better. Build them with more organization. In innovative ways, like in this video, it’s quite amazing. All of this needs money, and the present lack of governmental (or government :p) projects won’t bring the investments in.
4) The roads.
Not a surprise, roads are in a very bad state, and Beirut is a city of holes. The driver will have to avoid them, or to slow drastically, which makes up traffic congestion. Beirut is the capital, and it often have very bad renovations, but it has them. In other regions, like Akar and the Hermel, roads are in a horrifying state.  Of course the government is again to blame for overlooking these regions.
The problem is also in the way the roads are built.  Lately the road of Mar Elias has been renewed, what did they do ? Remove an old layer of bitumen and they put a new one. One week later the holes were back again. Every year it rains much less in Lebanon than in other countries, yet these countries have no problems with rain, we, are like ants in the rain.
We can’t widen streets, but we could improve them, by studying the real problems, the main reasons behind this proliferation of holes. Bring in experts, and rebuild them they the way experts do in other more developed countries. We need money.
5)The Drivers.
Yes, we the drivers, are not patient, not all of us of course, we tend to honk on a person who did not move, I mean the light is green since 1/1000s why did he not move ? We often run a red light, I personally don’t, but there is always a driver that will honk at me for respecting rules. “yala t7arak !”
The Services that suddenly stop. And the buses ? Worse.
And how about the scooter drivers ? No Helmet on, passing against the run of the roads, (same here for cars passing “aks ser”, those desperate me. And of course children that are driving them..Oh god.
And the seat-belts, you don’t wear the seat-belts here, it is a shame.
Let us calm down, and be respectful, let us stop at red lights, respect limits, etc. It is linked to the system/government.
6)The system.
Now “the Drivers” problem is linked to this one. I think that the Lebanese drivers do not respect the rules because they won’t be sanctioned. “Red light ? No one’s coming and no policemen, I can pass. Red light ? Camera ? It’s not working, I can pass” How many times have I heard these ? A lot of times.
Also the driving license is corrupt, the exam is a huge fail. Have you done it ? My 9 years old brother could pass it. So how do you expect to get good driving when the exam is a joke ?
Solution ?
I think that if we were more sanctioned, we would be following the rules as they are. You’re not wearing the seat-belt ? Sanction. Run a red light ? Sanction. Speeding ? Sanction. As simple as that, might appear tough, but I am sure people will respect the rules in that way. Just like Europe. In France points are removed from your license if you fail to follow the rules. When you run out of points ? Well they take your permit. At least they try to decrease the amount of dead on their roads.
The government should change the way licenses are being given. The exam should change, it should makes us aware of the rules. If the exam is changed, maybe, maybe we will drive more decently. Arrest those kids that are driving motorcycles. And arrest and sanction the ones selling the motorcycles to kids.
And Please, let those policeman do their work, how many times did you see a policeman on his cellphone, doing nothing to ease the situation up.
In short, sanction people, make them pay, and maybe chaos will decrease for more order.
We should follow more courses, workshops that make us aware of road safety, thankfully, there are non-governmental associations like Kun Hadi that are great. But it’s not enough.
If we have to find the roots of all these problems, we could blame the government, some problems are maybe out-of reach, others could be easily resolved.
Too much car for a small town ? Out of reach, but it can be regulated by the government, with public transport !
The Urban design of Beirut ? Out of reach. Good luck renovating the structure of Beirut.
Constructions are badly organized ? Could be easily resolved by the government.
The Roads ? Could be easily resolved by the government, I mean..it’s just roads =/.
The Drivers ? WE have to calm DOWN. And it is linked to the government somehow…
The System ? Government.

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