Nairobi, 26 March 2019- UN-Habitat in partnership with the United Nations Office Nairobi, UN Environment, Nairobi City County and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and Critical Mass Nairobi last week launched the first ever bike train in Nairobi.
Bike train is where a group of people commute using bicycles either formally while going to work or school and informally while cycling as a recreation activity. To demonstrate the concept about the bike train, bikers were flagged off in a “bike train” from the Nairobi Runda Water premises to the United Nations Recreation Centre cycling 2.9 kilometers.
One of the cyclist Ms. Cyprine Michelle, Lead Coordinator Critical Mass Nairobi said “bike train is the best thing that any cyclist would love to do, we advocate for bike trains in Nairobi. If adopted and accepted, it will ease a lot of pressure that comes with commuting using a car. Parents will not drop their children to school instead the children will use bicycles with marshals around to assist.
Commuting with a bicycle is easier, you can do so with a friend. We encourage all to join a bike train and promote accessibility Critical Mass began in 2014 with only six cyclists, we now have more than 500 cyclists as part of the Critical Mass team. We meet every last Saturday of the month we have been successful we are now the biggest Critical Mass in Africa. We also hope that this bike train will grow and have more people”.
Critical Mass is a global movement that brings together cycling enthusiasts.
In her speech, UN-Habitat Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif said cycling is one of the best exercises because it’s a recreation activity as well as a commuter’s mode of transport from one place to the other and that people should cycle more. The Executive Director lamented that our cities were getting congested and yet we had the alternative to cycle.
“At the current rate of motorization, Nairobi’s number of cars will at least double by 2030. This is hard to imagine against the background of the already traffic-choked streets and highways. We therefore need a paradigm shift that encourages compact cities and mixed-land use to increase accessibility while reducing the need for transportation; as well as promoting public transport integrated with walking and cycling. We appreciate the efforts by the Nairobi County to adopt a Non-Motorised Transport Policy in 2016. It is now time to implement the recommendations of this policy,” she said.
In his speech Mr. Ivan Feys, Deputy head of Mission representative Embassy Belgium emphasized that “with infrastructure there is no congestion in cycling. Non-motorized transport infrastructure is very important, 60% of the people around the world want to cycle but 59% of the people do not feel comfortable because of the speed of the motorized transport around them. Safety of any cyclist is critical with infrastructure and safety assured people will be comfortable to bike.”
One area that had been neglected in Nairobi for several decades is the provision of safe pedestrian walkways and cycling paths. However, this is set to change, said Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Chief officer for roads and public works Mr. Muthama, Sonko said “In conjunction with the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura), the Nairobi City County Government is ensuring that all new road projects have components of pedestrian footpaths. This has been done in the Ring Road Kilimani, Ring Road Westlands, Ngong Road and other new projects. The impact of this has been instant. We now see more people walking to work and back, and many others jogging for fitness. There are more cyclists in those areas, but not enough because culture takes time to change. I am confident that this will gradually be realized.”
Mr. Michael King of TrafficCalmer encouraged all “to effectively promote Non-motorized transport, the City County of Nairobi would start by identifying a route. It can be 5 or 10 kilometers dedicated for non-motorized transport infrastructure once the infrastructure is up start celebrating and encouraging people to cycle you will be amazed with the turn out.” TrafficCalmer is an international organization which promotes green mobility.
This event brought together the United Nations staff, various embassies staff in Nairobi, Critical Mass, and the local cyclists in the city. There will be a monthly bike train in Nairobi.