19-10-2009   Two days ago we got on a plane heading to Nairobi, this was the start of a trip with the final destination of Kisumu. This was not a totally smooth trip. First, after just 200 m from the airport in Nairobi our taxi broke down, but our taxi driver was persistent and after some trial and error we went on for the ride. He dropped us of at our hotel, although it was cheap, the neighborhood turned out to be too dangerous for us to head out on our own. Luckily the driver brought us to our first contact with Kenyan fast food in Nairobi city centre.

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Next day our contact Emund Murage showed us the way to Kisumu, by matatu or taxibus. This turned out to be a small safari tour were zebras, wrath hogs, baboons and impalas lived next to the road. When approaching Kisumu the number of bicycles increased noticeably, so we were heading in the right direction.

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In Kisumu Richard Oteka from the Vittoria Boda Boda Association welcomes us and guides us to our stay, a comfortable, cozy but minimalistic residence.

Tomorrow our first meeting; at the office of the Vittoria Boda Boda Association.

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Location Kisumu After a few weeks of preliminary research in Delft we are ready for our first visit to Kisumu Town in Kenya. This Sunday we’ll be flighing to Nairobi, and from there we’ll hop on a bus for a 6 hour drive to our final destination. Once we arrive we can finally get in contact with the people this whole project evolves around, the small bicycle entrepreneurs in this region. We will talk with a lot of them, visit their homes, join them for a day at their work, discuss possible bicycle improvements and maybe even design a couple of bikes with them.

During our stay in Kisumu we’ll be posting pictures and updates regularly. So be sure to visit here every couple of days.

Greetings from the African Bicycle Design Team

by Alana Herro on June 16, 2006

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 the minibuses, or “matatus,” to get around. But as improvements in the bicycle industry lead to lower production costs, sales of the pedal-powered alternatives are booming.

Kisumu’s bike taxi commuters can now cross town for half the price of a matatu ride, and they 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 more capital-intensive and gasoline-dependent matatus. “I never, ever thought I could have my own company,” proclaimed one new bicycle taxi entrepreneur. “I am happy. My children are eating.”

But as bicycles bring greater prosperity to their owners, local matatu businesses are struggling. Some drivers have attempted to survive by courting a niche market of people traveling to Nairobi; others have decided to sell their vehicles and buy their own bicycles. The bikes do have drawbacks, however: many cyclists are hit and killed by reckless motorists. Bike taxis also favor the strong and able, as cyclists rely on their own power to transport several times their body weight.

starting upWithin the design project we first analyse the needs and demands of the people in Kisumu and the stakeholders, this will partly be done in Kisumu, but also in the Netherlands.

 

This week we started up and planned the trips, activities, research methods and deliverables. Of course this can’t happen with a good load of post-its and some good old markers.

Further this week we will try to map our context, stakeholders and maybe even start our first sketches.