Ensuring efficient bicycle riding project in the FCT

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A news analysis by Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

As more countries ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars, transporters will unarguably desire to put their money in a system that is stable and where revenue forecasts are not bleak.

For this reason, observers note that a transport policy that is ecologically progressive and relatively cost-effective will attract direct foreign investments for national development.

Considering the importance of eco-friendly systems to the development of the nation’s economy, stakeholders in the transportation sector recently, in Sokoto, approved the commencement of a ‘bicycle riding’ project, as a means of transportation in Nigeria.

The project is to tackle such problematic issues as road traffic congestion, environmental pollution as well as improve the health of riders among other benefits.

Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport, announced after the recent National Council on Transportation meeting, that Abuja was chosen as pilot because it already had cycling facilities.

He stated that other states who want to implement the policy must provide bicycle-riding facilities before they can proceed with it; stressing that lanes must be separated to minimize the chances of road crashes between motorists and cyclists.

“We decided that we do it in Abuja because if you check, nearly all the roads in Abuja, there are lanes for bicycle.

“Any other state that wants to go ahead can do that but they must provide lanes for bicycle so that we do not have numerous accidents,” Amaechi said.

He said that using bicycles as a means of transportation was not new, especially in countries such as China, UK and Germany.

Speaking in the same vein, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said it would work with other stakeholders for the successful implementation of the policy.

It however noted that some infrastructural adjustments are still needed to support the proposed bicycle riding project in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Corps’ Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, explained that apart from infrastructural adjustments, the project also required amendment of the National Road Safety Regulations to include provisions for the safety of cyclists.

“FRSC commenced the promotion of urban cycling since 2011; it is not new to us. Since then we have built collaborations and established and funded the National Stakeholders Committee for four years running comprising all government agencies relating to transport, private sector and unions for four years running.

“The committee developed the first draft National Cycling Policy, which could not be approved by the previous administration owing to bureaucracy,” Kazeem said.

He added; “as a pilot scheme, if Abuja is taken, there is need for restructuring of some intersections before we can kick start it successfully.

“FRSC studied all the road networks in Abuja, and we have identified the gaps and recommended measures to address them

“During the study, which we carried out with officials of the FCTA (Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), we found out that all roads and streets have provisions for bicycle lanes in the design, but at the point of construction the lanes were either ignored, merged with pedestrian walkways, making the walkways too wide, or were turned into green areas.

“I think it is only on Yakubu Gowon Way in Asokoro that the lane is being implemented. So, a key concern is the need for re-engineering of intersections and traffic lights to provide for cyclists.”

Observers note that there have been several reviews and reforms in the transportation sector yet the full implementation of bicycle policy in the country is still below the expectations of Nigerians.

Previous efforts were hampered either by bureaucracy or the willful neglect of approved urban and regional plans during the construction of roads and other amenities.

They, therefore, call on relevant authorities to present a united front in confronting the challenges that stand to hamper the implementation of the bicycle-riding policy in Abuja.

Some of the objectives of the National Policy on transport include improving the availability, quality, and efficiency of transport services in order to increase economic growth, productivity, competitiveness, and access to markets.

It also seeks to increase the capacity and diversity of the private sector by providing opportunities for Nigerian and international investors and contractors in the provision of transport infrastructure, encouraging efficiency, innovation, and flexibility.

The policy will enhance the health, safety, and wellbeing of the public. Others objectives are to protect and enhance the natural environment; and minimise greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

The provides a blueprint which outlines the various reforms desirable in the transport sector to develop an adequate, safe, environmentally sound, efficient and affordable integrated transport system within the framework of a progressive and competitive market economy.

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