The University of Nairobi will be the pilot ground for a bike share and cycling culture when a pilot project on cycling as a mode of transport is implemented in the institution before facing it out in Nairobi County. UN Habitat has committed to give a seed funding to purchase 30 bicycles in the project.
The aim of the cycling and bike share project is to increase mobility in Nairobi, following an increase in traffic congestion that has been experienced in the County.
Led by a team from University of Nairobi Innovation Lab- Computing for Development Lab (C4DLab), UN Habitat, Kenya Urban Roads Authority,IBM, World Bicycle and Buffalo Bicycles, stakeholders held a workshop to discuss promotion of a cycling culture in Nairobi through a bike share pilot scheme at the University of Nairobi.
Dr. Tonny Omwansa, organizer of the workshop and Director of C4DLab, explained the need to enhance mobility of students within the campus. Dr. Omwansa noted that there was student traffic walking distances from classes, hostels and facilities in campuses. He said that the institution would form a good ground to implement a cycling culture.
Dr. Omwansa also explained that the aim of the workshop was to assess health, environmental issues, undertake surveys and studies and find out scaling that would facilitate cycling.
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) Maina Gachoya, said that biking culture would improve outer-inner mobility in areas not serviced by public transport. He added that cycling culture will also improve public health and contribute to reduction of emissions.
Barbara Lah from UN Habitat noted the importance of policemen, politicians and men in suites being perception changers from whom the community can emulate.
Also from UN-Habitat, Ms. Stefanie Hozwarth said that the pilot project commencing with University of Nairobi will test new mobility solutions that have not found their way in Kenya. “We want to learn from the University pilot,” she added.
The workshop discussed culture and perception of cycling in the country noting that cycling is associated with poverty. Stakeholders also discussed powered bicycles for persons with disability, tracking and maintenance and gender considerations in cycling including gender differentiated bicycles as well as ease of getting into and out of a bicycle.
The bike share model is presently being used in Germany, Copenhagen, Paris, Chile, China, Argentina, Washington D.C., New York, Mexico and India.
C4DLab has already undertaken mapping of the city. It is presently incubating a startup called Sifa-safi that deals with clean environmental concern. “C4DLab has a design school which is multi-disciplinary. We think about problems with the consumer need in mind. Thereafter, we look at possible solutions and come up with a prototype. Innovation to a large extent is collaboration,” said Dr. Omwansa.
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