A few weeks ago, Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris picked up her bike together with a team of cyclist and she took on the roads of Nairobi. This journey took her from her house in the suburbs of Kitisuru to the parliament building, about 11km.
Passaris is a lady of many firsts, her organization “Adopt A Light” was on the forefront in lighting Nairobi city. The city was in the dark and unsafe those many years ago. With a technology imported from South Africa, street by street we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Passaris after her cycling session said she would engage potential sponsors to see that willing Nairobians are loaned or rented bikes and champion legislation that will make the roads safer for cyclists.
She did not stop, on Saturday I saw her rocking her bike in the streets of Nairobi campaigning for regulations that will make Nairobi a better city for cycling. nI am reminded of days I used to commute 50km everyday on my bike. Mombasa road was a real monster for me, every morning and evening.
When you cycle on Mombasa road, (many times) you get initiated by the toughness it brings. I became very tuff, I prayed a lot, and I learnt more and more how to put my instincts at work, and the power of intuition….when it says stop! I stop.
It was also fun to be on the bike those years, I saved money, I kept time of my appointment and everywhere I went, I had to tell a story of how am cycling on Mombasa road.
Today, I don’t do that as much as I would like to, but that doesn’t mean that I am done. Big things came but small things stay the same. I am glad that with people like Passaris in parliament, we are on a good road to reaching our goal of a green Nairobi, I mean the road has started.
It has been estimated that 90% of urban air pollution in rapidly growing cities in developing countries is attributable to motor vehicle emissions (UNEP, 2011) so while there are many sources of air pollution in Nairobi, including open air burning of refuse and biomass (Gatari, 2006), industrial operations and domestic cooking fires, motor vehicles play a critical role in the problem.
The county government in a plan to handle the traffic menace said they will be burning driving two days in a week. On this days, commuters will be encouraged to either cycle to work or use public transportation.
As citizens of Kenya and as Naironians, and most importantly as cyclist, we will keep pushing the government to make sure they put up infrastructure that supports cycling, regulations that keep cyclists safe and event awareness on how to share the road.
With members of parliament joining this fight, there is light at the end of the tunnel for cyclists.