Addis Ababa plans to introduce a bike-share system to provide low-cost and environmentally friendly mobility alternatives to the city residents.
The project will commence after a few months, backed with technical support from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and Addis Ababa Transport Bureau (AATB).
A shift towards an efficient and environment-friendly mode of transportation, the bike-share system is expected to reduce dependency on automobiles, traffic congestion, vehicle emissions, and scarcity of parking spaces.
With an expansion plan to provide additional 10,000 bikes in the coming years, the project will go operational with 730 bicycles in its first phase.
Bikeshare is a personal public transport system providing users access to bicycles that can be used across a network of stations closely located to one another.
According to the information from Addis Ababa Transport Bureau, the Bikeshare system is said to offer a convenient mobility alternative for short trips. The fully automated locking system of the bicycles to be used in the system will allow a user to pick a bike using a smart card or phone and return it to any other station.
The bicycles are robust, ergonomic, and are particularly designed for bike-share. Moreover, the bikes have step-through frames and adjustable seats, a plus to their comfort.
The bicycle-sharing scheme is expected to operate in some designated corridors of the city in its first phase, during which time it plans to generate green employment opportunities and improve health standards.
The first phase of the project is set to be operational in four months' time in the selected areas of the city including Mexico, Legehar, Stadium, Meskel Square, Bole, Kazanchis, Urael, Atlas, according to Aregawi Maru, Communications Director at the Bureau.
The areas are selected for the first implementation based on their population density and the prospect of demand to use bicycles as alternative means of transportation.
“We are currently setting up docking stations in the approved pilot project corridors in some parts of Addis Ababa and already established the required bicycle lanes,” the Director said
The system is claimed to be an initiative encouraging the transformation of streets towards preferable areas where pedestrians and bicyclists feel safe and comfortable.
In light of the cycling culture of the residents and the topography of the city, many supposedly criticize the idea that bike transportation would not be a viable transportation solution for Addis Ababa.
However, experts from the Transport Bureau justify the criticism with the notable change of attitude of residents who participated in the project survey. “Nowadays many are enjoying bike riding. We will keep working on various awareness-raising activities that could help develop the culture of cycling as an alternative means of transportation and recreational activity as well” explained the Bureau's Communication Director.
The question raised regarding the suitability of the city’s topography for cycling is refuted by experts who are participating in the Bike share project. Despite the fact that the capital sits over rolling hills 2,355m above sea level, most of the city streets are not significantly challenging for bike riding.
According to Mesay Shemsu, a Civil Engineer specializing in transportation, though it is very late to introduce bicycles as a transportation alternative, the city's initiative to accustom non-motorized transport is worth praise.
“The city has lagged behind in introducing bike riding culture in contrast with other neighboring countries. Nevertheless, it is better late than never,” Mesay reflects
"Little is done in making the city spaces friendly for non-motorized transport, pedestrian walks. Bike infrastructure is rare in Addis, I think that is what the city misses. The overall road infrastructure design, construction has to be friendly for non-motorized transportation, and this is not an ignorable case and the city administration should give it the due attention" he added.