Switching to motorbikes can help fix Kenya’s urban transport chaos


The rising fuel prices have cut boda boda and tuk-tuk operators’ margins, leading to reduced demand for motorcycle sales. FILE PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

Motorcycles have become a popular mode of transportation in Kenya due to their low cost, ease of use, and versatility.

However, the private biker community has not grown at the same rate as the public service community, despite the fact that the benefits are numerous.

Traffic congestion is a persistent bottleneck in many of the country's urban areas, resulting in hundreds of hours per year lost on short-distance commutes that take an inordinate amount of time.

During rush hour, for example, it can take nearly two hours to travel from Ongata Rongai to Nairobi's central business district, despite the fact that the distance is only 20 kilometres.

During off-peak hours, the same distance can be covered in about 20 minutes.

For the young and upwardly mobile urban Kenyans, the time lost in traffic could have been better spent attending to the many other aspects of their exciting lives.

Given the many activities that young people nowadays have to attend to, such as demanding careers, vibrant social lives, family commitments, and personal growth, the limited time they have left should not be wasted sitting in traffic for hours on end.

Furthermore, with the cost of oil recently reaching unprecedented highs, there is definitely a case to consider the monetary savings that come with switching your mobility from four wheels to two.

For example, whereas a standard 1,500CC vehicle can have a fuel consumption rate of up to 15km per litre, a decent street-focused motorcycle can reach heady highs of 30-40km for every litre of petrol consumed.

People living on the outskirts of town, in particular, can cut their fuel bills in half by switching their modes of transportation to motorcycles.

Saving fuel also helps with environmental conservation efforts. Motorcycles emit fewer greenhouse gases and have a lower congestion footprint because their engines are smaller and use less fuel.

As Kenya, like many other countries, faces climate change and environmental degradation challenges, motorcycle riding can help to mitigate these issues.

Individuals, for example, can contribute to lowering their carbon footprint and air pollution by riding motorcycles to work or transporting goods, which can benefit the environment and public health.

The benefits of switching to motorcycles are obvious, but such a move is rarely purely logical. Any biker will tell you that riding is more than just a means of transportation.