Nairobi University launches bike-sharing scheme

Pilot bike-sharing project funded by grant from UN-Habitat.

The C4DLab start-up incubation lab at Nairobi University has launched a pilot bicycle-sharing scheme aimed at reducing dependence on cars in Kenya's traffic-clogged capital.

The project, which is supported by a Sh1 million grant from the United Nations agency Habitat, headquartered in the city, has started with 30 bicycles at the university’s downtown campus.

However, there are plans to expand the initiative in 2017, establishing docking stations to connect Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) with neighbouring areas, possibly with the collaboration of the government and the private sector.

The university says that changing the public attitude to bikes is key to the scheme's success, in a city where cars are viewed as status symbols while bicycles are symbolic of poverty. The lack of bicycle lanes will also be an obstacle to the scheme.

Nairobi loses an estimated $500,000 in productivity every day thanks to its traffic jams, and experts say that if congestion continues at its current pace by 2030 the average driving speed will be reduced by half to 20km an hour.