Written by Nandemu Barasa
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Bicycles have now become a source of income to many Western and Nyanza residents as they use them for taxi services commonly known as bodaboda.
Almost two decades ago, any person who could be spotted riding a bicycle, was regarded to be a rich man as very few could afford one. Being a bicycle owner was in itself a reason to be ranked among the mighty. One could be accorded special sitting place in functions and even in churches.
Being a bicycle owner then, was a good enough reason for one to be appointed member of a school board, church committee, village committee and member of many other groups among other privileges.
Today, one can vividly remember the first person to own a bicycle the same way they can remember the first people to own television sets in the whole location and with the dawn of technology, mobile phones.
However with time, and rising living standards, man had to live. There was to be a creative mind for one to survive and provide his family with basic needs. But there were no jobs. Many had no experience and neither did they have skills acquired through relevant training institutions. Some even lacked Primary education but life did not recognize that.
That was the time when people could till their neighbors’ land for a few coins. Then there were no vehicles especially in the rural areas where if there was any, one had to master the time it passed near their stage, because it could only make one appearance, the second one will be when it is going in the opposite direction. If one was lucky to catch it, you could even be luckier to get a space to sit.
Something needed to be done. Transport was bad. Farm produce meant to be taken to the market could only just spoil in the farm; ailing persons could die just before getting to a nearest medical clinic because they could not make it there on time.
That is when a brilliant idea struck the people and there, the bicycles were turned into modes of transport. They turned the luxurious bicycles into the readily available means of transport and bodaboda or ‘‘Kenya runda’’ was born.
It was cheap and still is cheap and people could traverse any place with ease.
People take bodaboda bicycles up to their doorsteps compared to vehicles which mainly leave them in bus stations and cannot go in places where roads are not good.
Fast forward, today in Netherlands, life is not so much different as far as riding bicycles is concerned.
Many people use bicycles when going on duty and shopping in the market places. It is surprising that members of parliament and even ministers ride bicycles when going to work.
It does not mean that they do not have cars, in fact they have very expensive cars and drivers employed by the government but they prefer to use bicycles.
In Amsterdam, a bicycle retails at sixty to seventy Euros which is about six to seven thousand Kenya shillings. Many Dutch people argue that bicycles are good because they take minimal parking space which is also economical compared to vehicles which require a large parking space and it is also that the parking costs are very high ranging from six to seven Euros per hour.
As a result of many people using bicycles, most towns in Netherlands have managed to curb the problem of vehicles congesting in towns which is the greatest problem in Kenya making the country to lose many hours of production on traffic jams.
In Netherlands no one spends time on traffic jams as there is no congestion in towns. Note that even the bicycles used have special lanes on the roads and therefore there is no hindrance to other road users.
Mothers and baby seaters are also seen in towns carrying babies on bicycles. It is somehow very fascinating especially if you see it for the first time but with time you get used to it.
Many students also ride bicycles to their colleges and Universities with many arguing that it is the best physical exercise to them.
Mr. Nandemu Barasa is a Senior Editor at West Fm. He is also a senior political analyst with a keen interest in cultural research and analysis. He is also a senior presenter.
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