Driving urban resilience through cycling in Kenya

In the twelveth of a series of articles by our Youth Newsroom reporters, Kevin Luzalu from Kenya takes a ride.

Driving urban resilience through cycling in Kenya

Every weekend and public holiday, Kisumu bike club members take to the streets in large numbers, riding on their bikes and sometimes carrying advocacy materials. Evans Odhiambo and his team are determined to champion for greener modes of movement within the city. Through the biking movement, they are pushing the local government to enact a policy that will introduce vehicle-free days in the city, as a way of reducing environmental pollution. The Kenyan government and other decision-makers have, for a long time, employed top-down approaches that are not inclusive of the core interests of the majority of the people at the grassroots levels, especially the youth.

This frustration has inspired some young people to devise innovative ways of engaging the public to mitigate the worrying impact of climate change. Evans, 24, a young environmental activist from Kisumu County, is one of the vision-holders of urban resilience, cycling the talk through a biking club. Evans runs an initiative that seeks to promote the resilience of Kisumu City in Kenya.

The Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network member heads the Kisumu Bikes Club, with a mission to create a vibrant society that appreciates and upholds the values of its local resources and maintains the ecological integrity of the city. Now in its third year, the club has over 50 active members. “I realized that young people have a special role in redefining cities as they are currently known. The future of Kisumu largely depends on the initiatives we take today, collectively, to enhance its resilience,” states Evans.

“During our biking, we also advocate for the County Government of Kisumu to ensure all roads have designated lanes for non-motorized users, which will encourage more people to opt for greener travel options like cycling.” The club also creates awareness on the safe use of roads, especially during peak travel seasons such as on public holidays.

According to Evans, the biking club is also a great fitness option for many residents and an Eco-tourism venture. The county government of Kisumu seems to be responding well to such pressures. They recently adopted an environmental management Act 2019, which among other things, stipulates measures to control air pollution in the city.

The law also acknowledges intergenerational equity, stating that “all people within the present generation have the right to benefit equally from the exploitation of the environment, and that they have an equal entitlement to a clean and healthy environment.”

“Sustainability is the new urbanization,” says Evans. He remains committed and hopeful that more city dwellers will wake up to his cycling call for a cleaner, safer, and greener Kisumu.

Kevin Lunzalu (Kenya)
Photo credits: Kisumu Biking Club