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Nairobi Cyclists Fight for Equality on The Road

Image courtesy, Spin Kings

This year’s World Tourism Day celebrations in Mombasa welcomed some remarkable visitors. Governor Hassan Joho received cycling group Spin Kings Kenya, who rode from Nairobi to the Mama Ngina Waterfront to join in the celebrations. The Spin Kings covered 320km between Nairobi and Voi on day 1 and another 160km from Voi to Mombasa on the second day. The bicycle group wanted to raise awareness on road safety among cyclists.

For a little perspective, this year’s road cycling world championship was 258km long. It shows the magnitude of the achievement in a country which lacks bike lanes and where cyclists often do not receive the respect they deserve from other road users.

Apart from their battle for safer roads, the Spin Kings also want to create an environment where Kenyans learn to embrace their bicycles. The group organises weekly cycling tours on the weekends to get people to ride more. There are different tours and different difficulty levels so that nobody is left out. Whether you are a beginner or an elite cyclist, Spin Kings has space for you.

The Spin Kings
The Spin Kings
Cycling for change

Alongside Spin Kings Kenya is another movement with similar goals, Critical Mass Nairobi, a global, apolitical movement that brings cyclists together every month to advocate for societal issues.

One of Critical Mass Nairobi’s founders is Cyprince Mitchell, a Nairobi-based urban planner. Cyprince wanted to cycle for the bigger cause of advocating for clean energy and the reduction of environmental pollution.

Talking about her motivation to start the organisation, she explains that she spent less time on the road by cycling to work. Cycling got her home earlier too, ensuring she had time to be with her family after work. That is why Cyprince decided to start Critical Mass Nairobi in 2014. The movement started with just seven cyclists and today boasts hundreds of participants at each event. Rides take place every last Saturday of the month and usually start at Jeevanjee Gardens.

Last year in October, Critical Mass Nairobi teamed up with Amref Health Africa and the United Nations Population Fund Kenya to organise the Nairobi Ride. This trip started in city centre and ended at Two Rivers Mall. The goal was to urge various governments to keep their promises and redouble their efforts at improving reproductive health. They also raised awareness of women’s empowerment and gender equality as pathways to sustainable development.

Safety on the road

Besides the monthly rides, the organisation also educates its members and others on bike safety. They sell and distribute stickers to urge other road users to be aware of cyclists and keep a safe distance.

Furthermore, Critical Mass Nairobi started creating cycling trains. These are commuting plans that connect you to cyclists living in neighbourhoods near you. This way it is possible to meet up and commute to work in a group. Thus making the journey safer and more pleasant.

As Critical Mass Nairobi says: Cyclist lives matter.

Riding is not only good for you, but it is also good for the environment. It can help decongest Nairobi roads and curb air pollution and, in turn, help us all move towards healthier lifestyles.

There are different cycling organisations, using different names and different colours but they all strive for the same thing. Safety and respect for all road users, cyclists as well.

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