Jill Merriman is one of SCI’s current interns based in Dar es Salaam. Just finishing up her 6-month internship, Jill’s work has focused on Local Economic Development.
Last weekend, Nicole and I woke up bright and early to join hundreds of Dar es Salaam cyclists on a relaxing 15 km bike ride through what are usually some of Dar’s busiest streets.
The Dar es Salaam Cycle Caravan is a yearly event organized by Umma wa wapanda baisikeli (UWABA), Dar es Salaam’s cycle advocacy group. This year’s event was sponsored by the European Union, as part of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012.
Heavy rains the night before may have discouraged some cyclists, but the event was still widely attended by many Dar residents. Participants included disabled cyclists, children, and the elderly, all smiling in their fluorescent safety vests. FASTA was there too, as part of the organizing committee and active members of UWABA.
Organized cycle caravans like this one, or the more informal Critical Mass events, are taking place all over the globe, as people become increasingly aware of the benefits of cycling as a mode of transportation.
The Dar es Salaam Cycle Caravan is a celebratory and inclusive event that aims to encourage safe cycling in the city and demonstrate to the government the importance of cycle lanes and cycle-friendly roads.
We had a great time and lamented the fact that we were only borrowing bikes for the day. On Monday morning we would have to go back to our somewhat precarious walk to work along Kimweri Road, which inevitably involves us arriving slightly dishevelled.
So, if you are lucky enough to own a bike why not take it to work for a change. If you’ve got kids, send them to school on their bikes – here is a little NPR show about What’s Lost When Kids Don’t Ride Bikes To School – did you know the number of students who walk or ride their bikes to school in the U.S. has dropped from 48% in 1969 to just 13% in 2009?
That’s all from Dar!