By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
The Windhoek City Council has started with the construction of bicycle lanes ahead of implementing its non-motorised transport unit as part of the smart city initiative.
The estimated cost for the construction of the 4-kilometre cycling infrastructure is N$1, 11 million, while the procurement cost for the bicycle and accessories needed for the project is around N$3, 46 million.
Constructing the cycling lanes will cost around N$3 million per kilometre.
In a public notice issued last week, the city notified its residents of the construction of new bicycle lanes within the existing road lanes and sidewalks.
The lanes are to connect various students residing in the city with unreliable and expensive transportation options to the two higher learning institutions.
The lanes will run along Florence Nightingale Street (Khomasdal), Dr Kuaima Riruako Street (Dorado Park and Windhoek West) and Andrew Kloppers and Brahms Streets.
According to the council resolution seen by The Villager, the initiative is part of the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) that aims at enabling developing countries and emerging economies to create sustainable urban mobility.
There is standing cooperation between the City of Windhoek and the (GIZ) GmbH in the area of sustainable mobility.
As part of the co-operation, GIZ GmbH will contribute construction funds for the estimated 4-kilometre cycling infrastructure.
It will be covered by the funds received from the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative as part of the city winning the Smart Cities and Transport Unit challenge through its EBikes4Windhoek Project proposal in 2018.
According to the resolution, the project demonstrates the use of conventional and solar-powered electric bicycles (EBikes) as a sustainable and affordable form of transport.
An electric bicycle with a battery and a motor offers the rider additional support to normal human-powered bicycles.
Some of the benefits highlighted in the proposal are to introduce access to sustainable transport and increase the safety of on-motorised transport.
The project also aims to lower transportation costs by providing a more affordable mobility alternative, and to demonstrate e-mobility as an energy-efficient service in a peri-urban/ urban environment.
THE UNAM-EVENING STRUGGLE TO END
According to the council resolution, the primary beneficiaries of the project will be the university students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the University of Namibia (Unam).
The students to be chosen are those who are currently dependent on unreliable and expensive transport options such as taxis.
“The students will not be charged any monthly fees to use these bicycles during the pilot phase,” the documents read.
The city has standing Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the two institutions that enable the universities to participate in the project.
The project submission documents show that it intends to start off with 70 bicycles, of which 35 will be e-bikes, while the remaining 35 will be conventional bicycles.
All 70 bicycles will be fitted with GPS trackers and will be owned and insured by the City of Windhoek against theft and loss.
It is proposed that 15 e-bikes and 15 conventional bicycles should be given to each campus, and the pilot project will run for four months.
“These students will be chosen in conjunction with the universities’ student council,” the resolution read.
The monitoring and evaluation will be done by the technical consultant on the experiences of the students.
All the students will get road safety training from the City Police which will be facilitated by SunCycles as the technical consultants on this project.
The students will be allowed to keep the bicycles for the duration of the pilot study; they will also be allowed to make personal use of them in Windhoek.
After the pilot project, the bicycles will be returned to the City of Windhoek and the students will be liable for any damages and losses that may occur due to negligence.
MORE CYCLING LANES
According to the resolutions, the single cycling lane proposed, although offering great support to the project will not be the only required.
In pursuance of the non-motorised transport strategy approved by the councils in 2019, a network of cycling lanes covering the city is needed to allow for the free movement of bicycles and truly establish cycling as an affordable mode of transport.
“Unfortunately, the cost of establishing the required cycling infrastructure in accordance with the approved infrastructure guidelines is, at the present moment, unaffordable,” the resolution read.
In the absence of the required government subsidies, it will remain a concept.
“It is uncertain when such subsidies will become available and in the meantime cycling as an urban transport mode is unlikely to take hold,” the city councils highlighted.
On why the bicycles, the city councils explained that a survey was launched by the Department of Urban and Transport Planning to gauge public interest and opinion on the matter.
The survey received 1 000 responses. Over 90 % of respondents went for the use of cycling as a dedicated mode of transport and not just for sport and/or general leisure purposes;
While 85 % were prepared to sacrifice road space to make room for cycling lanes; and 76 % were in favour of bringing down the speed limit to 40 kilometres per hour to create a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians. Email: email@example.com