UN-Habitat- Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos and the President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday jointly launched one of the first Bicycle sharing concepts in Africa at the United Nations Headquarters in Gigiri. This took place after the official UN-Habitat Governing Council Opening session.
UN-Habitat is working with partner cities to promote sustainable urban mobility. Many cities are recognizing the benefits of cycling and have been promoting "Bike-sharing Schemes". The basic idea behind these schemes is to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short trips in cities as an alternative to motorized transport. Such arrangements do not impose a burden on the user to buy and maintain a bicycle. By providing convenient locations from where the bikes can be picked up and dropped off, bike sharing arrangements become a part of a city's public transport system, benefitting many people.
In many developing cities walking and cycling form a major proportion of all trips made by people. Yet these non-motorized modes of transport are not always adequately recognized and city planners very often tend to disregard the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. Half of the 1.24 million people who die every year as a result of road traffic crashes are cyclists and pedestrians. Without action increasing motorization rates will lead to further growth in fatalities and serious injuries from road traffic accidents.
Making cycling and walking safer and more attractive provide many benefits in addition to reducing the numbers of deaths and serious injuries. When properly integrated with public transport, it can make commuting in the city easier and more affordable benefitting not only poor people but the overall city economy. Measures which facilitate cycling and walking also reduce transport related air pollution and its related health impacts. The active lifestyle associated with walking and cycling also provides significant health benefits. In Nairobi, walking accounts for over 45% of all trips. While the proportion of cycling is currently small, making cycling safe and attractive through better planning and street design and well –planned bike sharing schemes can reduce the risks of injuries and deaths and bring down the time and cost of commuting.
As a part of the UN-Habitat's 24th Governing Council Meeting, an initiative has been taken to demonstrate the concept of a bike-sharing system. It is hoped that policy makers and planners will look at this with interest and consider introducing such schemes in their cities