C4DLab receives KES1 million from UN-Habitat to pilot bike-sharing concept

Computing for Development Lab (C4DLab), the startup-incubation-and-acceleration lab of the University of Nairobi, has announced it has received KES1 million (about US$9854.93) 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 funds was received on the back of a non-motorised transport (NMT) policy which the State launched in early 2015.

In the policy, the Government aims to incorporate non-motorized infrastructure on all roads in cities and town centres with at least 20% percent of all funds allocated for road construction and repairs.

The non-motorised means of transport includes walking, use of wheelbarrows, hand-drawn carts, animal transport, bicycles and wheelchairs used by persons with disabilities.

“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,” UN-Habitat’s Urban Mobility specialist, Stefanie Holzwarth said while speaking at the inaugural workshop on promoting cycling in Nairobi held at the University of Nairobi, Chiromo campus.

During her speech, she stated that trips by cars and two-wheelers would triple by 2030 which would cause air pollution and invariably health hazards, and called for the building of the necessary infrastructure to support the adoption of bicycles as a means of transport.

She added, “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.”

It in view this that part of the funds will be used to acquire up to 30 stylish bicycles for the pilot project to be implemented at the University of Nairobi with the other part used for 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,” said Dr Tonny Omwansa, C4DLab coordinator.

He added, “…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.”

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