Urbani izziv Volume 32, No. supplement, December 2021
Department of Architecture, Notre Dame University-Louaize, Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon
Exploring Beirut’s instability through its informal mobility
The present article addresses the transformations of Beirut, Lebanon’s public transport system from its establishment in the 1890s until its disruption during the Lebanese civil war of 1975–1989. The civil war left the country with a weak state, weak planning, and ongoing implications including the emergence of informal mobility. Although informal mobility is a global phenomenon, Beirut provides an opportunity for its study in the context of instability, with implications for riders’ spatial experiences. Within the framework of the mobility turn and mobility experiences, the present article explores the impact of the war-time divides on mobility in Beirut and the transition from a system operated under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works to one operated by private entities with politico-sectarian support. The article analyses the contextually embedded informal framework in terms of regulations, operations, negotiations, and Beirut’s road infrastructure. To this end, the methodology comprises literature review, analysis of the available bus map, interviews with the Riders Rights NGO, and observations along selected bus routes. The article the basis for further exploring how the spatial experiences of riders in this informal system are affected by Beirut’s post-war, divided configuration and securitization. The purpose of the article is to establish a basis for further investigating the system’s potential for social integration within Beirut’s fragmented and unstable context.
Informal mobility, Beirut, spatial divides, securitization, infrastructure