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Kenya: Levies Threaten to Push Bicycle Taxis Off the Roads

George Omondi, Business Daily (Nairobi) via AllAfrica
In spite of the growing number of jobless youths turning to bicycle taxis (boda boda) to earn a living, a leading bicycle distributor says high taxes are hindering the growth of the alternative means of transport.

Under pressure from its East African Community partners, Kenya introduced a 10 per cent import duty on bicycles in the Budget read in June.

The increase reversed the gains made in encouraging bicycle use by gradually lowering the tariff to zero. “When you add the 10 per cent duty to the 16 per cent value added tax, the bicycle becomes unaffordable for many people in the low income bracket who are the main users,” said Mr Sanjay Shah, a director of Turaco Limited. ..

Since its origin in the border town of Busia in Western Kenya, boda boda taxis have become a source of mass employment for youth in rural areas where poor roads have made it uneconomical to run regular public service vehicle (PSV) commuter business.

In Nakuru where the sub-sector is hardly three years old, 6,000 people are employed in the trade, the region’s Secretary-General of Boda Boda Operators Association ,Mr Peter Machira said. ..
(19 Aug 2007)

State of Cycling

Joshua Burd, Gatham Gazette
Even in packed subways, high gasoline costs and concerns about health, less than 1 percent of all New Yorkers regularly use their bicycles to commute to work. At the same time,18 percent of all New York City adults still smoke cigarettes.

Over the past five years, the Bloomberg administration has made a massive and somewhat successful effort to reduce the number of smokers. Now, can the same government that persuaded New Yorkers to stop smoking create an environment that will convince them to start cycling? ..

This spring, cycling has emerged as part of PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious proposal to make Nw York City more environmentally friendly and reduce carbon emissions believed to cause global warming.

The current plan calls for the completion of an 1,800-mile system of bike routes by 2030, as well as improvements to biking facilities and increasing public awareness. But New York still lags behind many other cities when it comes to promoting bicycling, and a number of questions remain about safety, facilities and the fight for always scarce space in the crowded city. ..
(21 Aug 2007)
Thorough and link heavy.

Beijing to put 50,000 bicycles for rent ahead of Olympics

Wanna tour Beijing? Rent a bike. The Olympic city plans to put 50,000 bicycles for rent across the city ahead of the Games to curb pollution and ease congestion.

Brand new bikes will be available at 230 outlets close to subway stations, commercial districts, Olympic venues, hotels and office buildings as well as in big communities, according to a “rent a bike” program carried out by Beijing Bicycle Rental Services, a Beijing-based company.

The company has so far put 5,000 bikes for rent at 30 franchise outlets close to the Beijing Workers Stadium, the Drum Tower, the Forbidden City and the Xidan commercial street, according to the company’s website.

Before next August, the network will be expanded to cover major communities and all the Olympic venues, said Wang Yong, general manager of Beijing Bicycle Rental Services. “Organizations and individuals are welcome to join our service network for free, as long as they can provide an area about the size of one parking space.” ..
(20 Aug 2007)

The one-of-a-kind wooden bicycle

Jonathan Skillings, ZDNet
When most people think of bicycle frames, they have in mind materials running the gamut of aluminum, chrome-moly steel and carbon fiber. Not so a timber technology student in Germany. For his two-wheeled creation, he turned to the beech tree.

More specifically, Jens Eichler got himself some sheets of beech plywood, along with a strong glue (phenol-resorcinol) and some power tools. After a few months of playing with the concept, he set to work in August 2006 on what would become a tandem bicycle he calls “Renovatia.”

(Aug 2007 ?)
More photos and text at original – click on thumbnail photos at bottom. Also, see the wooden bicycles in Africa at AfriGadget and the Bamboo Bike Project. -BA

Paris: ‘The city’s gone cycling mad’

Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian
It has been a month since Paris introduced its city-wide bike rental scheme. So how is it going?

No doubt the Tour de France helped, but when my rather substantial friend Jean, who has never knowingly walked more than 100m without the promise of a four-course meal at the end of it, began to trumpet the joys of cycling, I knew something profound was happening to the Parisian psyche. One month after its launch, Paris’s Vélib’, or “freedom bike” scheme, has turned the city cycling mad. You simply pick up a bike from one of the ubiquitous stands, ride it along for your short trip and drop it back at any random stand at your destination.

The first half-hour’s pedal-time is free, with charges rising steeply afterwards. Day and night, tourists, commuters and returning party animals cruise by on the chic new machines. People have joyfully discovered the cheap new way of exercising en route to work or getting home drunk after the metro closes, hence a rush of hires after 1am. There’s a glut of bikes deposited at stands at the bottom of hills and none left at the top, as people freewheel down from the heights of Belleville and Montmartre.

So huge is the success of the Vélib’ that Paris is proclaiming a veritable “vélorution”, reclaiming the streets for two-wheelers.
(16 Aug 2007)