Thika: Where Bicycles Are More Popular Than Motorcycle-Boda Boda

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Boda bodas are a popular means of transport across Kenya and they continue to gain popularity as they can evade traffic and access places where other traditional means of transport, such as taxis and matatus, cannot.

Official data shows that the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) registered 285,203 motorcycles in 2021, compared to the 186,434 registered in 2017. During the review period, the highest growth was recorded when 356,603 motorcycles were registered.

Most people cannot imagine that bicycles are still being used as boda bodas in some Kenyan towns. However, in Thika, bicycles are a common means of transport. Walking through the town and its environs, you will see bicycles parked alongside motorcycles at the boda boda stages waiting for customers.

Kevin Maina, a bicycle taxi rider, told KNA that bicycles as a mode of transport are more popular than the regular motorcycle boda bodas as the bicycle transport business is a source of livelihood for a majority of rural people who do not have
the resources required to purchase motorcycles.

‘For men like me who do not have any other sources of income, this business enables us to earn our daily bread. Besides, commuters prefer our services due to our prices that are significantly lower than those of the regular motorcycle boda bodas and we offer more security in terms of safety,’ said Maina.

David Wanjau, a resident of Kisii Estate in Makongeni, Thika concurs that indeed bicycle taxis are safer compared to motorcycles.

‘Going by statistics, there are quite a lot of accidents that occur frequently caused by motorcycles, and for this reason, most people here prefer to be ferried by bicycles. This choice is reinforced by the belief that motorcycle operators are careless and love speeding,’ said Wanjau.

Additionally, Wanjau noted that accidents from bicycles are minimal when they do occur, and do not cause as much damage.

Charles Kimani, another bicycle taxi operator said there were places bicycles could access that motorcycles couldn’t. He also st
ated that the fare was dependent on the distance and luggage.

‘As Thika natives, we understand the terrain and we can very well access narrow routes that may not be possible for motorcycles. The fare is also dependent on the distance and luggage. We charge Sh20 for short distances but the price can go up to Sh200 for longer distances. I make between Sh400-800 on a good day,’ Kimani said.

Source: Kenya News Agency