Korean Cycling Lessons for Kenya

That at independence the Gross Domestic Product of Kenya was more than that of South Korea is now a cliché. Instead of consoling our souls with the past and doing nothing, I opine that we not only appreciate the strides South Korea has made but learn. Learn to change our way of life.

Korea, a onetime typical example of an underdeveloped country during the Korean war, has since achieved remarkable economic growth, rising to the ranks of developed nations in the 21st century as a member of the OECD (Bicycle Transport Policy in Korea, 2013). Noteworthy progress has also been made in the country’s transport sector. It now boasts of state of art technologies exemplified by its high speed rail system called the KTX. Cycling has also gained momentum amid expansion of cycling infrastructure and bicycle usage patterns is also increasingly getting closer to those of advanced countries such as Netherlands.

How has Korea made this possible? The abundance of political will from the government of S. Korea has undoubtedly contributed to this success. Relevant laws were enacted in 1995 and since then, the government has moved to implement various measures including construction of bike paths and the overhaul of various related facilities, for the facilitation of cycling. There was more focus on relevant topics such as educational programmes, publicity measures and guidelines on building and managing bike paths accompanying an infrastructure expansion scheme (BTPK, 2013).

Kenya can learn a lot from the implementation of the Bike-Sharing programme in Korea. The Public Bike System is a bike sharing scheme designed to ensure that anyone can use bicycle as conveniently as possible, anytime and anywhere, and regardless of the destination. Traffic congestions, accidents and air pollution can be solved by this tool. The bikes can be rented or returned at Public bike a station which has a number of bicycles, racks and Kiosks for the rental and return of bikes.

This system helps to increase transport accessibility and expands transport rights. They provide the level of convenience close to that of passenger cars because users can ride them at any time they desire.  The Public Bike System represents a positive way of using limited resources effectively. Most importantly, the system is a trustworthy eco-friendly mode of transport. They also can be used to promote the urban aesthetic value if designed and manufactured in a way that suits the entire city.

For Public bike System to work, the question of convenience should be addressed. Public bikes should be readily available to members and non members alike. Connectivity is also another important aspect to be considered. This system should be equipped with functions to provide not only short-haul utility travel services but connection services involving other modes of public transport. Security and efficiency must be guaranteed. Since the bicycles are not personal property, it is likely they might be carelessly handled. Adequate measures to curb or deal with expected theft and carelessness should be put in place.Image




Lessons from Suwon

1st September 2013 was a very important day in the lives of city planners and ecomobility enthusiasts. All the roads led to Suwon, a 600 hundred year old city with a rich history situated 200km South of Seoul the South Korean capital. In the Haengung-dong neighborhood, the opening ceremony to usher the one month car-free was spectacularly held.  The breathtaking Korean cultural presentations blew the 500 delegates representing up to 41 countries away. The pomp and color was the curtain-raiser for an educative, mind-boggling 3-day congress.Image

I followed the happenings with rapt attention and compiled vital lessons from the EcoMobility world festival. They include inter allia:

  1. Priority should be the Priority

Many governments and urban city planners plan for vehicles. This explains why more super high ways are built over and over. The priority has been vehicles over people. With the world population expected to record an addition of 3 billion people by 2050, proper planning to create more cities for this population should be put in place. Policies should explicitly be people oriented. Gil Penalosa- Executive Director of 8-80 Cities said, “Building more roads to solve transport is like setting a fire and putting oil on gasoline. 17,086 people are killed in traffic accidents around the world in these 5 days of the Festival. We should put pedestrians as our priority and question the role of our streets. When a young boy complains of a big belly, the doctor doesn’t do surgery to increase the size to allow accommodate more food. He thinks of probably the lacking healthy living and deals with the problem from that angle. This should be emblematic on our roads. The issue is not increasing the roads to accommodate more cars but reducing the cars.


  1. Involve the People in EcoMobility

The people in the neighborhood of Haengung-dong were involved in the whole EcoMobility world festival concept. Ab initio, there was resistance from the people. This stemmed from the facts that many businessmen were afraid will lose customers because taxi drivers will have no jobs and in turn not show up in their restaurants. The leadership of the City of Suwon however kept on pushing and talking to them about it. The persistence from the leaders finally saw the resistance from the neighborhood wear out and more support for EcoMobility surfaced. More people packed their bicycles outside the restaurants creating more business for them. It is imperative that the governments involve the people and speak to them the benefits of EcoMobility and let them see the sense and adopt it.

  1. EcoMobility for the Youth

EcoMobility, a paradigm shift towards championing and integrating walking, cycling, wheeling, passenging  and car sharing, bringing the focus back from automobile-centered development to human needs and livable cities should be made fun for the youth. The youth consist of up-to 60% of our population. If they all can adopt EcoMobility and passionately have it as their way of life, then the battle is won. Parents in the city of Suwon brought their children to experience EcoMobility. The children were trained on how to safely ride bicycles on the roads. From such a tender age, the idea of EcoMobility as the mode of transport was being ingrained in their way of life.




  1. Safe lanes for Ecomobile traffic

Transport authorities should redesign roads as Ecomobility lanes with three segments:

-One lane for pedestrians and other slow sensitive users;

-One lane for faster non-motorized vehicles;

-One for faster public transport such as buses trams and cabs.

EcoMobilty is as old as we learn how to walk. Further, every journey begins and ends by walking. As government, young and old we can be united by EcoMobility. Let’s adopt EcoMobility for posterity.



The Suwon Youth Declaration


The joy of every youth is to have their thoughts and concerns taken into consideration

in decision making. This was the case in the ongoing EcoMobility world festivals in Suwon.

From the International Council of youth representatives to to the Suwon secondary

schools students, they all were present. Ready to enjoy their right to participation. And such a powerful statement they made:

We, the representatives of the future generation have been consulted on how

EcoMobility in the 21st century should look like. Having been part of the discussions

of the world-first EcoMobility World Festival 2013 taking place in Suwon, South

Korea from 1~30 September for a month organized by UN-habitat, ICLEI and Suwon

city, we have reached common understanding that EcoMobility has to integrate acts

that are environmentally-friendly.

Indeed, the demand for transport already outstrips supply in much of the world. For a

long amount of time, it has been shown that as people’s basic mobility needs are met,

motorized transport challenges to decision makers in many urban areas today,

where the negative aspects of traffic are the main cause of local air pollution, traffic

accidents and other environmental problems.

Culturally, the organic relationship between the environment and human is being

extremely important in our world. Thus, we understand the Eco-mobility should play

a role in alleviate the negative aspect by seeking to address amenity, social inclusion

and accessibility among the future generation. As in this context, EcoMobility festival

is well positioned to change the world transportation paradigm starting in Suwon,

Republic of Korea to the world.

 The world is certainly poised for development and it should capitalize on the

opportunities presented by Ecomobility in terms of developing sustainable transport

systems based on the Eco-mobility principles and the values.

The long-time benefit of creating non-motorized transportation systems that are

firmly grounded on the sustainability will satisfy present and future generation needs

greater than any short term gains. In addition there are many global practices that

can be adapted to suit in different contexts.

In the status-quo, for Ecomobility to be adopted, the priority for the more number

of future generation and all the people is to be aware of its term, values and reasons.

Reflect the voices from future generation as an important stakeholder of Eco-Mobility,


“EcoMobility refers to travel through integrated, socially inclusive, and environmentally friendly options,

including and combining walking, cycling wheeling, public transport and car-sharing.”

-Unlike the previous environment-centered systems such as Green Vehicle,

EcoMobility is an organic system that includes the needs and benefits of both

the environment and the human beings.

-EcoMobility is not a choice but a necessary step that should be taken by both

older and future generations, which with the development of appropriate

recognition and infrastructure, will provide everyone, including social

minorities, with safer and faster lives, thus, improving the overall human welfare.



The concept of EcoMobility should be pursued for the benefits of the

community as well as for the future generation:

-EcoMobility has many benefits which can be linked directly to the community

and most significant are the effects it will have on the future generations,

– There is the direct relationship between the fundamental human rights of

movement and expression with EcoMobility,

– We need to look into sustainable sources of energy as a planet and

EcoMobility offers the exact solution through the modes of transport that is


-Modes of transport promoting EcoMobility also ensure safety and the risks

involved are a bare minimal and it also encourages people to do more

exercises which in turn prevent disease,

– Adjustments that come about as a result of EcoMobility promote security and

well being of the members of the community,

– EcoMobility greatly improves the aesthetic value of a city as a result of

elimination of the motor vehicles and the reduction of congestion.


 Accountability of Institutions

Recognizing what the society has given, institutions should demonstrate their

accountability by rehabilitating the infrastructure of the community they belong to.

Participation of Young People

The youth is an abstract group that will be present in all generations, therefore

their involvement and inducement to EcoMobility brings about its sustainability and


 Global Responsibility

Creation of global platforms to create awareness and the involvement of the

United Nations and other major international organizations in embracing EcoMobility

will provide a platform whereby the member states have a responsibility towards the

establishment and protection of EcoMobility principles.

Evidence Based Implementation

It is important that we further the research into this topic and form an ‘Eco-Tank’

for this information to assist the proper propagation by financiers as well as provide

insight to other cities seeking to adopt the EcoMobility initiative.


In light of the view above, we propose the EcoMobility Youth Advisory

Board that is regionally representative, fully resourced to be responsible for

the following:

1. Large-Scale Youth Education and Opinion Gathering

1. Increase youth participation and gather youth opinions.

2. Use standardized surveys across school systems regarding youth local

environment, school travel patterns, perceived needs of youth, perceived

barriers to youth EcoMobility, and how youth feel they can contribute to sustainable transportation.

3. Develop values and skills for lifelong environmental stewardship.

2. Youth-centered Infrastructure Analysis

1. On the municipal scale, identify, map, and evaluate sidewalks, bicycle

routes, and path to and from school.

2. Involve Youth panels in this process since youth know their local environment best.

3. Give consideration to perceived safety of neighborhoods and the built

environment regarding crime prevention through environmental design.

3. Establishment of EcoMobility technological hubs

– Harness youth creativity and innovative capacity through the establishment

of EcoMobility technological hubs.

4. EcoMobility Youth regional forums and conferences

– Organize and take part in EcoMobility Youth regional forums and


5. Establishment of EcoMobility ‘Eco-Tank’

– A youth think-tank for EcoMobility

6. Lobbying Governments, parliaments, and relevant stakeholders

-Advocate governments to support EcoMobility, Parliaments to pass

EcoMobility legislation, and non-governmental organizations to adopt EcoMobility practices.

In conclusion, we want to reiterate how we, the people, are hungry for actions, and more

hungry for inclusion at all levels in EcoMobility discourses.

We demand full implementation of above recommendations as the representatives of the Future Generations.

We have the urgency to see full realization of EcoMobility practices in our generations!!!”

3 September 2013

Future Generation


The pristine beaches of Mombasa are now threatened. The fresh, refreshing breeze is now polluted. Even the waters are scary rather than enticing. A swim in the oceans is not that fun anymore. Dealing with the slimy fluids in the name of grease from discarded car and boat engines is not welcoming anymore. The sudden increase in the number of engine powered boats does not create the desirable feeling of a holiday in the coast. Instead, the noise generated by the boats makes it not any different from the big cities we break away from. The long traffic snarl ups en route the beach worsen the problem the more.
When the beaches are no longer immaculate. When the breeze is no longer fresh and refreshing. Where will people outside the coast go for holiday? How are we going to raise our revenue? Are some of these machines even necessary in such a city? We have become too lazy to walk to the malls. Schools and offices are now a cab away. This has left obesity, hypertension to boom and flourish!
How I crave for a bicycle city. How I crave for a dinghy city. A simple city with the ability to live in tranquility. A system, coexisting in ecosystem. A bicycle would not emit any harmful fumes that will later threaten lives. That will threaten our very source of livelihood. There would be no more traffic nightmares. Let us restore the good old days with simple boat rides in the seas. Days when people would bask in the sun and reflect without distraction.
To achieve goal number eight of the Millennium Development Goals we definitely do not need billions. Adoption of Eco-mobility will go a long way in realizing this goal. It is a simple and practical way of life that has discernible impacts. Climate Change is to a great extent caused by things that are not necessities in life. If we can walk to work, why do we need 20 cars each emitting a considerable amount of gases into the atmosphere?
Eco-mobility means of transport are unfortunately perceived to be out-modish. The in vogue Range rovers are what everyone wants to have. Camels at the coast are not a form of transport but are used to entertain tourists in the sandy beaches. My city is abandoning cheap, readily available forms of transport for expensive and complicated ones. Eco-mobility does not feature incandescently.
I pose and propose that we adopt Eco-mobility especially for an urbanizing world like ours. That county government enact policies that will facilitate the implementation of Eco-Mobility. That we promote walking to work, fossil fuel-powered means of transport and cycling.
The Suwon experience will be an opportunity to benchmark and learn what other nations are doing to achieve environmentally friendly transport options. Such practical solutions will goad inhabitants of my city assume healthy ways of life through Eco-Mobility.

I agree Tom! It was never meant for a given clique!

All Things Kenya

In days gone by, in order to ascend to the presidency, the political infrastructure required the formation of political parties with a strong, ethnically-backed individual at the helm. More recently, ethnic voting blocs have been used as bargaining chips to secure a ‘seat at the table’ in this era of coalitions. Prior to 2007, ODM assembled the Pentagon, a group of politicians perceived to be leaders within their respective ethnic groups, capable of delivering their voting bloc to the cause of their joint candidate. This was a largely “successful” formula, if success is measured by proximity to the presidency. A similar group now appears to be in formation, this time on the PNU side of the coalition: the G7 follows a similar model to the Pentagon of ODM. These groupings, who stand for little more than the individuals represented therein, demonstrate the extent to which the political class as a…

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