“BackItUp and ParkElsewhere!”

4 Oct

I find it interesting that twelve months into my commuter-cycling in Nairobi, I still get warnings like these, mostly from security guards:

“Usi-park hapo, Kanjo wataibeba” (Don’t park there, the City Council officers will confiscate it)

or

“Park pale kwa piki piki, hapo itabebwa” (Park near the motor cycles, if you leave it  there it will be confiscated)

I wonder about them Kanjos. With only one designated bicycle parking spot in CBD, why begrudge me my bike security ingenuity when I hook it up to a pavement rail or a post? Especially since I occupy very little space that THEY don’t have!!

In the latter situation, the motor bikes simply stand in an empty parking space with no railing in sight to secure a bicycle! I touched on this topic earlier in my blog. In the former, perhaps they are warning me of their own ill motives.

These days I am impervious to the threats disguised as cautionary advice, I simply shrug or pretend I have not heard. Sometimes, I just smile knowingly and proceed to chain my bike on whatever permanent-looking, preferably metal pole, post or railing. I once chained it to a giant padlock hanging from a collapsible grill door on Biashara Street, even though the watchman at the door said that the Asian lady shop owner would be trouble. She turned out to be congenial, wanting to know how far I cycle.

City Hall is proposing new time based parking fees in Nairobi, I wonder if there will be a commensurate proposal to enable city commuters more options for travel, including cycling, which would require the least space for parking and be able to accommodate several bikes in a small spot. The simplest and cheapest is bike parking based on this model.

Currently, the city has no shortage of posts seeing as headless, former parking meter posts remain standing along the Nairobi pavements, that can easily be converted into bike parking hoops. With the addition of pavement trees, these poles are a nuisance to the ever-increasing pedestrian traffic in the Nairobi Central Business District; you often have to dodge a tree and then a headless post as you get around the CBD, avoiding to step up onto the protective blocks around the base of the pavement trees, lest you get arrested by a council officer. They serve no purpose at all! Let’s face it, we are not as privileged as these guys, so it would be great for The City to give incentive to new buildings coming up that have parking levels built-in; make it better for the residents of Nairobi, not worse, in the interim.

The headless former parking meter poles.

With bike parking, just as with car parking, the owner would want to park nearest to their destination, if not right outside or within the building they are visiting or working in. However, bike parking is more versatile and occupies less space than car parking. For instance, in a space that can park a single car, you can park eight to twelve bikes!

Smart, sustainable cities of the future have a policy for bike parking and bike transport.

The various types of bike racks can also serve as new revenue earners for the city and like I stated, by converting the existing parking meter posts, bicycle parking need not occupy much space. This one is a cute work of art that will look good even after the bikes are all removed.

Now, Nairobi does not have crazy bike theft statistics as some cities around the world do judging from this article and this one  that gives tips on how to avoid bike theft in a city that has a huge cycle-commute culture. That does not mean there is no bike theft. Most modern bikes come with quick release wheels; the rear wheel is sometimes a fixed wheel. To ensure you find your bike where you left it, secure it correctly, preferably with two U-locks, on whatever permanent spot you can find – avoid the dustbins as that could really land you in trouble with Kanjo (City Council officers).

In Pictures:

About to use the metal frame of security doors outside a shop on Koinange Street

Fortunately, most malls in Nairobi are ahead of the pack in factoring in bike parking for customers:

In Pictures:

A bunch of Black Mamba fixed gear bikes parked at the basement bike racks at Westgate Mall, Westlands.

 

This set up wastes space but is nonetheless provided at Junction Mall on Ngong Road. The rail is solidly set up to prevent cars crashing the bikes. I suspect it was an after thought as a large “Zambarau” tree prevented turning it into a car parking spot.

The bike racks at the basement parking of Prestige Mall on Ngong Road. These are also not a great use of space, but they allow you to lock the bike in multiple ways, which is great.

It made more sense to occupy a parking spot at Green House on Ngong Road, where it could be secured to the railing, than to just stand the bike with the motorcycles in the corner.

A Blackie fixed gear bike on Tabman Road chained to a shut collapsible security grill.

Bikes chained to the railing at parking spots Magua Center. The motorist folks here are congenial and if they find a bike already parked they leave room.

Some spots the City Fathers could consider setting up bike racks. This will be updated as Shecyclesnairobi identifies new spots:

In Pictures:

Extended pavement on the corner of Moktar Dada Street/ Moi Avenue is ideal.

That spot next to the trash bin across the road is great for say two or three racks.

This island at the top of Kimathi Street near the Jamia Mosque has lots of poorly used space; a sign post, a lottery/sweepstake booth, a planter, a public bench… If rearranged it can accommodate all these and at least 5 bike racks.

This spot is just outside the CFC Stanbic Bank on the corner of Kimathi Street/ Kenyatta Avenue. The curve enclosed by the pavement railing creates a dead zone that is hardly used even by pedestrians.

The ample space beneath the obelisk on Kenyatta Avenue near ICEA Building is a good spot for say, 4 bike racks.

Along Kenyatta Avenue, the little island with the yellow curb at the traffic/pedestrian crossing is ideal for say, 3-4 bike racks

…and this one also on Kenyatta Avenue opposite Housing Finance House.

This one is by far  one of the most ample  and strategically located (on the most accommodative street in Nairobi) on Koinange Street. It’s location on a non crossing zone for pedestrians reduces likely hood of interfering with pedestrian traffic. It can host up to 10 bike racks, and  will enable cyclists hop on and off the pavement as they leave on join the Koinange Street traffic onto Kenyatta Avenue.

The best for last:

The large Island opposite the Hilton Hotel and The KenCom bustop is the most poorly utilised space in CBD Nairobi…

The large Island opposite the Hilton Hotel and The KenCom bustop: Pedestrians prefer to walk alongside it instead of across it with all the security measures that the Hilton has put in place hindering human traffic.

The large Island opposite the Hilton Hotel and The KenCom bus stop: The space is enclosed by the pavement railing to prevent dangerous crossing by pedestrian, but instead it has been rendered a dead zone. I see opportunity to park 100 bikes here between the planters and along the railing, probably at a fee!

The back ways and alleys off Biashara Street and Tabman Road are urinals. Adding a bike parking rail along one wall would change that…

The photos in this post are taken using a Blackberry 9220.

~ __0
_-\<,_
(*)/ (*)  Happy cycling in Nairobi!!  ❤ Cycling! ❤ Nairobi! and beyond!

9 Responses to ““BackItUp and ParkElsewhere!””

  1. mmnjug October 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    In all towns in Kenya, cycling can be down easily, thinking outside the box is creating bicycle parking racks….. But that demands that some in authority use their heads…..which is RARE!!

    • shecyclesnairobi October 5, 2012 at 4:09 am #

      I hope bicycle parking will be factored in as the de-congestion measures are put in place. It’s great they are prioritizing cars last now… But what comes first? The pedestrian/walker? Or The public transport commuter?

  2. Maureen Muthaura October 6, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    This is actually a great idea and wouldn’t hurt to start lobbying the city to provide bicycle parking space, challenge is the city would want to make money from that. Alternatively they can discourage driving and encourage cycling into the city by making it free.

    • shecyclesnairobi October 6, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      The bike parking shelters can be a revenue earner to the city by having advertising on the slanted roof and the side panel. That’s my point exactly, cycling answers their de-congestion problem and occupies less space on the road and in parking.

      • charlesmkenya July 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

        This is quite a valid point.

  3. Khristopher Carlson January 14, 2013 at 7:23 am #

    Hello, Sorry if this is a repeat post and has already popped up somewhere else in your blog. … I am looking for a new/used bicycle, something like the Black Mambas or Blackie as you describe them in your photos above. Can you provide me with information as to where I can find such bicycles? Many thanks and great blog. Cheers.

    • shecyclesnairobi January 14, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      You can get this type of bike in down town Nairobi.
      Also contact Bicycle Relief Joyce W. Ndungu
      Country Director, Kenya
      P.O. Box 101572-00101
      Ngong Hills hotel, 5th floor Suite 501, Ngong Road
      Nairobi, Kenya
      Tel: (Kenya) +254 (0) 722 507 843
      Tel: (Kenya) +254 (0) 722 614 033
      jndungu@worldbicyclerelief.org

      They build the Nyati blackie, by far the best single speed in East Africa.

      Enjoy the ride.

  4. Dave March 28, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    Love your blog and only stumbled onto it today, so sorry for coming in so late to this conversation. I’ve been doing the urban cycling thing in Nairobi for a little over a year and couldn’t agree more with your sentiments about parking areas. Unfortunately, we’re more than a year on since you wrote this and one is still reduced to chaining to any available chuma or leaving kitu kidogo with an askari…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “I Am Afraid I Left My Bomb At Home Today” | shecyclesnairobi - September 25, 2013

    […] of the few establishments that has a secure bicycle parking, and I mentioned their parking in an earlier post. Before you get to Westgate Mall coming in from Waiyaki way, there are two other options for […]

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