18 Mar

UN-Habitat’s Urban Mobility specialist Stefanie Holzwarth during a one-day workshop on promoting cycling in Nairobi held Friday at the University of Nairobi, Chiromo campus.

C4DLab has received Sh1 million from UN-Habitat to pilot a bike-sharing concept aimed at reducing over-dependence on motor vehicles by students at the University of Nairobi and beyond.

The latest development in the history of the startup-incubation-and-acceleration lab comes on the back of a non motorised transport(NMT) policy which the State launched in early 2015. In it, the Government aims, with at least 20% percent of all funds allocated to road to construction and repair, to incorporate non-motorized infrastructure on all roads in cities and town centres.

Included in the category of non motorised transport and critical to the cities’ overall transport mix are walking, use of wheelbarrows, hand-drawn carts, animal transport, bicycles and wheelchairs used by persons with disabilities.

Speaking prior to the announcement of the partnership, UN-Habitat’s Urban Mobility specialist Stefanie Holzwarth said that time Kenya’s cities and towns implemented efficiently and on a large scale the non motorised transport policy for the benefit of Kenyans at large was long overdue.

For Nairobi alone, the potential for adopting the bike-sharing concept is high. Why, in our much recent study on how Nairobians travel, we found that about 45 per cent of the commuters use matatus and buses, 36 per cent walk ,18 per cent use cars and two-wheelers, and only 4 per cent bicycles, yet of all the means, riding a bicycle is the most advantageous,” she said.

Ms Holzwarth was speaking Friday at the inaugural workshop on promoting cycling in Nairobi held at the University of Nairobi, Chiromo campus, where the bike-sharing pilot scheme for the University was also deliberated upon and passed by the stakeholders including Kenya Urban Roads Authority(KURA), Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA), National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), as well as as NGOs Institute for Transportation and Development Policy(ITDP), and Siasa Place.

However, she warned that at the current rate of use of motor vehicles, which she said was about 63 per cent, trips by cars and two-wheelers would triple by 2030, which would not only be a major health hazard due to air pollution, but also would take away permanently the joy of traveling by the same means due to heavy traffic jams.

Even so, in our study again, up to 40 per cent of Nairobians would use a bicycle as an alternative means of transport, but the major problem is lack of appropriate infrastructure including reserved bike lanes, docking spaces, stations, and terminals; as well as personal attitudes where those using bicycles are perceived broke or poor or just plain impractical when there are fast and possibly cheaper means,” she said.

At the same time, C4DLab coordinator Dr Tonny Omwansa said that some of the funds would be channelled towards the acquisition of up to 30 stylish bicycles for the pilot project to be implemented at the University of Nairobi while the rest would go towards supporting infrastructure.

Obviously, the success of this important project would require the direct involvement of a wider array of stakeholders including corporates, the Nairobi City County, traffic police, National Transport and Safety Authority among others, without which it will be difficult.

But we are determined nevertheless to work towards that end with whatever helping hand we will get, beginning first by creating massive awareness on using bicycles as the preferred means of transport as it is more important than even the revenue model itself,” explained Dr Omwansa on feasibility of the project.






About the Writer

Moses Omusolo is the Social Media Manager, C4DLab.


  • bikesfortheworld

    Non-motorized transportation (NMT) represents one element of addressing transport congestion in Nairobi and making transportation more equitable in Kenya overall. And factors like the poor image of cycling (as transport of the poor), and Nairobi’s car-oriented transportation infrastructure and congestion, certainly are obstacles. But the obstacles to NMT go far deeper. An approach promoting NMT requires far more than an urban bike share program. Individual ownership will continue to be the principal tenure of use. The obstacles go beyond the “image”, which places the fault on the user of the bike, rather than on the purveyor of the image–the country’s urban elites–which see NMT as “backward”, not worth investing in, and easy to disadvantage, such as when the Kenya Revenue Authority taxes imported bicycles higher than more privileged imports, and the Kenyan Bureau of Standards requires each imported bicycle to be accompanied by a “warning device” and “a locking device” — unnecessary and arbitrary non-tariff barriers which increase unit cost (hurting the poor the most), reduce consumer choice (a user in an urban setting has different needs from one in a rural area), and arguably decrease competition (favoring traditional oligopsonic importers with a standard product, again increasing costs to the consumer).