GGGI collaborates with UN agencies and partners to organize 4-Day Regional Knowledge Exchange for African Cities on Public Bike Sharing Systems in Nairobi

October 11, Nairobi – The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Rwanda team in collaboration with the UN Environment’s Share the Road Programme, UN-Habitat, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) Africa office and Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) organized a 4-Day Regional Knowledge Exchange on Public Bike Sharing (PBS) Systems for African City Representatives from Nairobi, Kisumu, Kigali, Musanze, Rubavu, Kampala, Abuja, Addis Ababa and Cairo that took place in Nairobi, Kenya between October 8 and 11.

This knowledge exchange workshop brought together policy makers, national, sub-national and local government representatives, development partners, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and private sector representatives from African cities to build capacity and gain insights on the practical and technical aspects of designing, planning and operating a PBS system in Africa, explore potential challenges & opportunities, and lessons learned in implementing a Bike Share system in Africa and global level. The participants also understood how PBS systems fit into a wider context of reduction in travel time, emission reduction, traffic congestion reduction, health benefits, environmental benefits, promotion of non-motorized transport (NMT), and the policy context of urban planning. The participants also benefitted by trying out the operational campus bike shares systems of United Nations Headquarters in Nairobi and at the University of Nairobi.

Ms. Amanda Ngabirano, Urban Planning Lecturer from Makerere University trying out United Nations HQ’s Campus Bike Share System

Participants of the PBS Knowledge Exchange trying out United Nations HQ’s campus bike share system

Speaking at the opening of this 4-Day Knowledge Exchange Andre Dzikus, Coordinator, Urban Basic Services Branch, UN-Habitat, iterated “the great contribution of bicycle sharing systems to the achievements of the global frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. These can only be achieved through action on the ground, particularly in the cities with highest urbanization and motorization rates” –  he added.

Ligia Noronha, Director, Economy Division, UN Environment, explained the increasing challenge of air pollution in urban areas and the impact on the health of urban residents. “Bicycle sharing systems are one solutions to improve the quality of air for the increasing number of people in our cities” – said Ligia.

Group picture of participants at University of Nairobi’s Bike Rental System

Michelle DeFreese, Senior Green Growth Officer, Global Green Growth Institute, mentioned that “bicycle sharing, as a relatively new concept, needs to be disseminated on a wider scale on the African continent. Kigali and Secondary cities of Rwanda are facing high urbanization rates but are starting to recognize the importance of non-motorized transport as a solution to cater for the increasing transport demand.” She added that “GGGI aims to support these cities in their efforts – and link them up with cities that have lessons to share such as Nairobi and Marrakesh.”

During the panel on global perspectives, Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya, Acting Country Representative and Lead Program Coordination, GGGI Rwanda shared that, “there is a need for increased collaboration between public and private sector actors in regards to non-motorized transport, especially on bicycle sharing. Nothing that such collaborations on regulations, infrastructure development and awareness sends a very good signal to the users and the public on the importance of PBS.

Participants trying out University of Nairobi’s Bike Rental System

The PBS Pilot project in Rwanda was initiated to address six key issues: 1) increased mobility for the lowest socioeconomic strata, 2) alleviation of road congestion, 3) reduction of GHG emissions caused by motorized transport, 4) alleviation of strain on services through investing in secondary city green mobility, 5) improved air quality, and 6) encouragement of the use of PBS as an affordable means of transport. The objective of this project is to establish Rwanda’s first PBS pilot by partnering with district level officials in 1-2 secondary cities and providing a replicable model that could inform the initiation of similar pilots in other secondary cities and/or Kigali.

GGGI facilitated international participation of 8 participants from Rwanda whom include representatives from Rwanda Transport Development Agency, Private Sector Federation, Rwanda Women’s Network, Africa Rising Cycling Center, Benediction Cycling Team, AC Group, and 1 participant from Uganda from Makerere University, Kampala. The Rwanda participants were earlier involved in the stakeholder consultations on PBS Systems in Musanze and Rubavu cities conducted in August, 2018. The participants got an opportunity to understand implementation of PBS systems related to feasibility studies, demand assessment, planning, developing business models, financing options, building a cycling culture with technical experts from ITDP, UN-Habitat and private sector representatives from bike share operators such as Mobike, Nextbike, PBSC Urban Solutions and Uber. The private sector representatives also shared their plans, priorities, opportunities and challenges for PBS in African cities.

African city representatives sharing their bike share plans

During the technical sessions, the participants who were led by technical experts from ITDP went around Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) with an aim to plan for a pilot bike share system. The participants explored target user groups, proposed docking stations, bike lanes and station designs during the site visit. The participants also assessed the existing NMT infrastructure in Nairobi CBD and understood the factors determining good design of a bicycle lane.

(L-R) Public Bike Share Private Sector Representatives from PBSC Urban Solutions, Mobike and Uber

During the technical sessions, a knowledge sharing session titled ‘A Conversation between Women Cyclists’ was organized to enable women participants share their experiences with cycling in their cities. Ms Cyprine Mitchell, ITDP Africa, founder of Critical Mass Nairobi, a Kenyan cycling activist and Ms. Amanda Ngabirano, Urban Planning Lecturer, Makerere University, a Ugandan cycling activist shared their cycling experiences of Nairobi and Kampala cities respectively. Few of the noted challenges include poor NMT infrastructure, stereotypes associated with women cyclists etc. The participants were confident that sustainable mobility in African cities should not be a choice and it must be inclusive with special attention to children, women, elderly, differently-abled and youth.

Participants going around Nairobi CBD to develop a pilot bike share system

This knowledge exchange event also complements with GGGI Rwanda celebrating Urban October 2018 – a month long celebration with activities, events and discussions around urban sustainability to highlight the implementation of the commitments of the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Participants learning on how to design a bike lane

The Flickr album for the Nairobi event can be accessed here. As a result of the event, the African Urban Cycling Organization (AUCO) was formed as a platform where participants can continue to discuss and share lessons learned from cities across the continent. Going forward, GGGI aims to support the development and integration of low-carbon mobility options in Rwanda such as e-motos, bicycling sharing, and electric vehicles. A session on e-mobility is being planned on Wednesday, 28 November for the Africa Green Growth Forum (AGGF) being held in Kigali from 26-30 of November.

Cyprine Mitchell and Amanda Ngabirano sharing their cycling experiences