Motorcycling has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons in Kenya.
Over the last two months, there have been reports of marauding gangs on Boda motorcycles robbing, inflicting severe injury, and even killing innocent Kenyans in Nairobi and its environs.
In one incident, 24-year-old Keegan Githua was stabbed to death by criminals on a motorcycle while on his way to Ridgeways.
The criminals, one of whom has since been apprehended by the police, disappeared with the victim’s mobile phone and laptop.
These incidents have given motorcycling a very bad name in the eyes of the public and law enforcement agencies.
My regular readers will be aware that I am a motorcycle enthusiast and I have been riding for the last 54 years.
Over the years, I have experienced my share of negative criticism about my chosen passion because of the widely held perception that motorcycling is dangerous and only those who are hellbent on a speedy despatch to their maker indulge in the activity.
I will be the first to admit that motorcycling exposes the rider to more risk than other vehicular modes of transport.
A motorcycle has only two wheels and stability is obtained through a gyroscopic effect and the positioning of the rider’s own body.
The rider is exposed directly to the elements and in the event of a fall, the body takes the full impact hence the need for protective gear which, however, does not provide 100 per cent protection.
Motorcycles have a relatively small silhouette and are therefore less visible to other road users, meaning they are more likely to be struck by other vehicular modes.
The power-to-weight ratio of motorcycles is relatively high which enables them to accelerate to a high speed in a short distance and time.
This causes riders to overestimate the potential of their motorcycles and take higher risks.
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Motorists also misjudge the speed of an oncoming motorcycle and may enter an intersection thinking that the motorcycle is far away.
Because of their manoeuvrability and ability to accelerate quickly, the small-capacity Boda Boda motorcycle makes an ideal getaway vehicle for robbers.
Unfortunately, some riders consider the motorcycle to be a fashion or status statement and want to show off their prowess which may be plain stupid or way above their skill level.
As an experienced rider, I try to inculcate a responsible attitude towards motorcycling among riders regardless of whether they are newbies or older riders.
My motto is “Respect your bike and it will respect you”.
I have been keen to improve the image of motorcycling and to change the perception that we are a bunch of irresponsible people who have not quite grown up and have a death wish high on our priority list.
In 2010, I initiated The Narok Motorcycle Ride, which was an annual event held in August to raise funds for orphans and the vulnerable.
Participants would ride 140km from Nairobi to Narok to raise funds from various sponsors for this worthy cause.
One of our regular supporters during the five-year duration of the event was Nairobi Chapel and together we were able to assist more than 200 children in Narok, some of whom have since completed university education and are giving back to their communities.
On December 23, 1971, at the age of 16, I rode my motorcycle from Nairobi to spend Christmas with my aunt Beatrice and her family in Sotik where her husband was the local veterinary officer.
Although I can understand the lure of her delectable mikunjos (chapatis), when I look back, I still cannot believe how daring I was then.
I suppose it was the exuberance of youth.
I was recently reflecting on my trip, and I decided I will reenact the motorcycle ride on December 23, starting from the same house where we lived on Archer’s Gardens (now Kabarnet Gardens) and travelling to the government house in Sotik where my aunt and her family lived in 1971, a total of 256km.
The purpose of my ride will be to raise funds for Tujuane Community Centre situated in Ngando opposite the racecourse on Ngong Road.
The centre caters to children of working-class mothers who need to be looked after when they are not in school on Saturdays.
They require 17 desks which cost a total of Sh85,000. Tujuane Community Centre is an outreach programme of the Nairobi Chapel.