On your bike? Africa in a jam as ‘poor man’s transport’ ignored

Bike sharing has struggled to take off in Africa where road networks tend to favor motorists. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2018
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On your bike? Africa in a jam as ‘poor man’s transport’ ignored

  • Experts are keen to increase cycling across the continent as it could reduce traffic jams and air pollution and enable more people to get around their cities
  • Sitting in Nairobi’s notorious traffic jams costs $16.2 million a year in wasted time and fuel

NAIROBI: Bike sharing in African cities has lagged due to lack of dedicated lanes and the perception that cycling is for the poor, worsening traffic jams and pollution, experts said on Wednesday.
Bike sharing has expanded across North America, Europe and Asia as authorities seek improve boost the health of city residents and the planet, but it has struggled to take off in Africa where road networks tend to favor motorists.
“When governments only construct highways for vehicles, they are conditioning people to own cars,” Amanda Ngabirano, an urban planner at Uganda’s Makerere University told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a Nairobi bike sharing forum.
“The attitude toward cycling is still bad across Africa. It is seen as a poor man’s form of transport and has been pushed aside by planners.”
Morocco’s Marrakech was the first African city to get a bike share program in 2016 with the support of the United Nations as it prepared to host a climate conference.
Experts are keen to increase cycling across the continent as it could reduce traffic jams and air pollution and enable more people to get around their cities, improving job opportunities.
“Simultaneous to building infrastructure is building a bicycle culture, by raising awareness on the benefits that cycling can bring to people’s lives,” said Stefanie Holzwarth, a mobility expert at UN-Habitat, an urban development agency.
Sitting in Nairobi’s notorious traffic jams costs 1.6 billion shillings ($16.2 million) a year in wasted time and fuel, Kenyan academics calculated in 2013, a problem which is likely to worsen as its population grows.
Kenya’s capital has a longer commuting time than many global cities, with four in 10 people walking because they cannot afford public transport, according to the United Nations.
But the lack of bicycle lanes makes it dangerous for cyclists who fight for space with motorbikes, cars and trucks, said Cyprine Mitchell, a transport planner with the New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.
“Infrastructure in many African cities is a barrier to cycling,” said Holzwarth. “There is fear among many people that would like to cycle because the infrastructure is not safe.”


Ali called Marvel about ‘Blade’ after ‘Green Book’ win

Updated 21 July 2019
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Ali called Marvel about ‘Blade’ after ‘Green Book’ win

  • After winning his second Academy Award for “Green Book” earlier this year, Ali set up a meeting with the superhero studio
  • Within 10 minutes, Ali asked what was happening with “Blade” and said he wanted to play him

SAN DIEGO: Mahershala Ali made the first move with Marvel Studios and “Blade.” Comic-Con audiences learned on Saturday night that Ali would be playing the Marvel Comics character in a reboot.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige says right after winning his second Academy Award for “Green Book” earlier this year, Ali set up a meeting with the superhero studio.
Within 10 minutes, Ali asked what was happening with “Blade” and said he wanted to play him.
Wesley Snipes played the half-vampire in three films for New Line Cinema and in a recent cameo in “What We Do in the Shadows.”
Although there were rumors that Snipes would return over the years, nothing had officially progressed with the property on the big screen since the rights reverted to Marvel Studios in 2012.