Updated: Oct 1
Thika Road below its expansion in 2012
Back in 2006, I could not imagine cycling along Thika Road with its slim duo lanes and over speeding PSVs zooming at Safari Rally speeds towards towns lined up on your way to Mount Kenya region. Fortune baked a cookie when the Kibaki-Raila coalition government signed a multi-billion Kenya shilling road project that saw Thika Road expanded into a super highway. 3 wide lanes on each side, a 1.5 meter shoulder on both slow lanes, service lanes, a cycling lane and a pedestrian lane that was to stretch along the 45 kilometer long road. It was a treat to be, especially for miraa drivers plying the route from Meru. All always looks grand on paper but coming to the ground work and things turn out to be different. Thanks to corruption and a non-inclusive agenda to cater for the most of the road users who cannot and will not afford to own a motor vehicle, bicyclists and pedestrians were given a half baked cake deal. The infrastructure is there, yes, but you look at it and wonder if the constructors were drunk on chang’aa or they were smoking polaseeds.
Now, how can a cycling lane end abruptly onto a lighting pole, or even worse, what is with the 4 feet tall twin bullet shaped concrete barriers erected on cycling lanes before crossing a feeder road. What was so wrong about a sign post for cyclists crossing or a cement cycling label with a demarcation line up to show that this lane is for non-motorized means of transport. The shoddy work the Chinese contractors did was appalling, unimpressive and worst of all judgemental on the part of catering for the movement of the have nots. As if in those wasteful of taxpayers’ money meetings in lavish polished offices that generate useless undeveloped ideas the contractors were bought into the notion that every Kenyan owns a car. The government, shamefully, propagates the ideal of a green Nairobi city yet in the sundown of affairs, double deals in not providing the right infrastructure to propel the green environment movement that is been sang in the climate change song worldwide.
To add acid into the wound, public apathy lowers the ph much more. The public is uneducated about the use of such demarcated lanes. You find absent-minded pedestrians flocking cycling lanes, food vendors and automobile garages opened for business along such lanes. It is a nightmare riding through these seas of mismanaged minds, moreover the cyclist is mocked as been poor. The public loves filthy rich and corrupt leaders who are worshipped as gods, right.
Ans so cyclists are forced to use the shoulders on the main lanes at the mercy of lightning rod speeds of deranged drivers dipped in the intoxicating vial of the need for thrilling speed with all regards to the safety of other road users launched out of the speed shuttle into the outer space of selfishness.
The Belac Memorial Ride held on 19th September 2020 in honor of Caleb who died while cycling along Thika superhighway
In September 2020 alone, the second half of the month has witnessed 3 vehicle-cyclist accidents with two fatalities. On 16th September, Caleb ‘Belac’ Omwoyo a young cyclist training for an upcoming cycling race in the weekend met his death at the hands of a careless Kenya Mpya bus driver near Safari Park hotel. On the 28th of the same month, early morning on Nation FM, radio presenter Tina Kaggia who has been vocal about the respect and treatment of cyclists on Nairobi’s roads, pointed out that a cyclist had been knocked down along the same highway.
We need the properly sensitize the value of the life of a cyclist on Kenya’s roads and by properly I mean a weekly television feature dedicated to teaching the public about cycling safety and drivers’ responsibility. The roads are not a piece of land to be owned by big pockets, the roads are for all. Share the road, we all arrive home.
Cyclists lives matter, we are important too