Planning for cycling as a mode of urban transport: A Case study of Kakamega town
Mmbai, D Keya
MetadataShow full item record
Planning for affordable, convenient, cost-effective and sustainable urban transport is one of the major present challenges urban planners have to cope with. This situation becomes even more complex to achieve where these elements of urban transport have to be addressed in the - light of the increasing scarcity of urban land for development vis- a vis environmental degradation. Previous urban transport planning approaches meant to increase efficiency in transport are skewed towards increasing the level of motorisation. Given the increasing scarcity of urban land, escalating fuel prices, urban environmental degradation all leading towards increasing cost of urban life, attention has to shift towards more affordable, acceptable and convenient modes. Walking has been the best alternative to the increasing urban transport costs, but as towns grow and the urban poor continually being pushed to the urban fringes, the resultant distances between place of residence and work place alienates walking. This leaves the bicycle as the next appropriate alternative, However, though bicycles have had a long history in transport, they have completely been ignored when planning for urban transport networks in most developing countries. This limits their use in urban transport. Studies done in Europe have clearly demonstrated that the bicycle is an important and viable mode of urban transport. Such transport phenomenon is completely lacking in Kenya. However, irrespective of their omission in urban transport planning, bicycles are emerging as a common and popular mode of urban transport. Kakamega town present one of such a unique case where bicycles have enshrined themselves along - side the planned and established motorable transport. This unique mode of urban transport reflected in Kakamega town makes one to come up with questions in regard to how and why did such a "unique" mode of urban bicycle transport evolve. As a gesture to resolve this riddle , this study focused on identifying the background factors to the emergence and continued growth of bicycles as a mode of urban transport in Kakamega town. Reasons or purpose for bicycle choice by both passengers and bicycle taxi operators as well as determination of the problems' encountered were used to gauge the type of urban transport needs catered for by this unique mode of transport. Thus, which type of service gap do bicycles in Kakamega town try to bridge? How are they doing it? Are they able to do it effectively? Primary and secondary methods were employed in collecting the relevant data. Both qualitative (tables, graphs and percentages) and quantitative (Cross-tabulation) techniques were used to analyze and present the findings. Major findings from the study area show that bicycle use has been on a steady increase since 1988 to the present. Currently, the bicycle (46.6%) stands as the dominant mode of transport observed along the established main transport corridor into the town centre. As regards reasons for the increasing use of bicycles ,three factors namely Convenience, 'Cheap and reliability came up as the main reasons for increasing bicycle use in Kakamega town. Increasing distance from home to work place is the main transport gap which the bicycle tries to bridge, while trips to work emerges as the main trip purpose. However, increasing traffic road accidents (IRA) due to narrow roads is a major constraint to further growth in bicycle use. On the other hand, the study established that bicycle operation is a potential source of income both to the cyclists and the Kakamega municipal council. In line with these findings the major proposition is to plan for a network of segregated non-motorised ways in Kakamega town. The network aims at increasing efficiency, reliability and reduction in Traffic road accidents. This therefore calls for close collaboration between the Kakamega municipal council, Department of physical planning and the resident population. If adapted, the various recommendation made in relation to increasing the viability of cycling in urban transport can be a better option towards promoting environmental friendly, efficient, convenient, affordable and cost effective mode of transport. Such a mode can be partially or fully be incorporated in other towns urban transport systems where local conditions are favourable. This will therefore provide an answer to the Kenya's current urban transport policy of developing a cost effective, environmental friendly, efficient, affordable, technologically appropriate mode to fit into the general framework of a sustainable urban development for the present and future generations.