Bicycles Leave Kenyan Taxis in the Dust

By Herro, Alana | World Watch, July-August 2006 | Go to article overview
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Bicycles Leave Kenyan Taxis in the Dust


Herro, Alana, World Watch


Bicycle taxis are rapidly supplanting gasoline-powered minibus taxis in parts of western Kenya, according to an April 26 report by Inter Press Service. Residents of Kisumu, a small city 500 kilometers from Nairobi, have long relied on aging minibuses, called "matatus," to get around. But as improvements in the bicycle industry lead to lower production costs, sales of the pedal-powered alternatives are booming.

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Kisumu's bike-taxi commuters can now cross town for half the price of a matatu ride, and usually arrive at their destinations faster because the bicycles, known as "boda bodas," maneuver through traffic more easily. The bikes also bring environmental benefits, including cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. And bicycle taxis offer a means of income for a larger share of the population, compared with the capital- and fuel-intensive matatus. "I never, ever thought I could have my own company," proclaimed one new bicycle taxi entrepreneur.

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