Nigeria introduces bike lanes, bans Okada

* A commercial motorcycle is popularly known as “Okada” in Nigeria

The Nigerian state government announced plans in late October 2012 to introduce bicycle lanes on major roads across Lagos in an effort to ‘enhance lifestyle and cleaner environment’.

The announcement was made by the Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, at a cycling event ‘Park and Ride’. At the event, Mr. Opeifa urged Nigerians to park their cars and ride bicycles, discouraging the use of Okada on walkable distance, for example, from the house to the bus stop. “And wen they (commuters in Lagos) get to the bus stop they should tie their bikes to the poles provided at the bus stop and join the BRT buses.”

Cleaner environment, improved health, support commuters and local businesses, minimize death and accidents by Okada, boost the economy and so forth. Those are some pros to having designated bicycle lanes in Nigerian cities, just not in Lagos. But the announcement created quite a stir amongst Nigerians all over the world and across the great World Wide Web, especially since the announcement came just weeks after the government announced to ban Okada on 475 roads throughout Lagos.

After reading one article after another, I’m happy to have found people who have similar viewpoints on the two issues (‘the issue’ & ‘helpful insight’). Nigerians have spoken, here are some highlights to help you catch up…

Reasons to ban Okada:

  • Okada drivers are untrained and drive recklessly

The issue with banning Okada:

  • Banning Okada doesn’t fix the problem the government proposes the ban will solve
  • Raises the issue of creating jobs for those laid off parents, care givers and normal citizens
  • Banning Okada will not refrain ‘Lagos drivers from being aggressive, not wanting to make way for anyone else driving on the road to get through, including bicycles’
  • Sent Okada drivers ‘on a rampage in various parts of Lagos State to protest the ban on them’

Helpful insight (comments from articles on the Okada ban and bike lanes):

  • ‘…there are existing guide-lines for driving and road use, that is why people go to driving schools to learn them. It signals a serious inability of objective reasoning and consideration before taking decision that affects the lives of others by the Leadership. Teach Okada riders the Rule of the Road. Case closed.’
  • ‘…this issue would have been a lot easier to dealt with if adequate and well established laws guiding the operation of Okada has been put in place before now.’
  • ‘…if you dedicate a lane on the extreme right of a federal high-way for Motorcycles will it hurt the Government…? But the same is being done for LAGBUS. Print and distribute traffic rules and regulations to both car and motorcycle user for free if you cannot force them to driving schools. Disseminate these rules through the media. It is not only your campaign rallies that should be aired on TV and Radio. There should be Radio and TV programs dedicated to teaching good driving habits and not just to advertise some Mechanic shop or window dress LATSMA’s deficiencies.’
  • ‘…lets make the Okada drivers learn how to drive better and ensure they are licensed ? A total ban … in Lagos does not make sense. We already have so many unemployed, this will just make matters worse and is very short term. A long term strategy should have been developed.’

Reasons for bike lanes:

  • To ‘enhance lifestyle and cleaner environment’
  • To reduce pressure on the roads as well as traffic

The issue with bike lanes (comments from articles on the Okada ban and bike lanes):

  • ‘…will the Lagos traffic law also affect the bicycle riders’
  • ‘…will the government also create bicycle parking spaces across the city?’
  • ‘…hope the lanes will not be taken over by beggars and traders’
  • ‘…is it the roads that have unfilled pits and potholes that they want to create bicycle lanes on?’
  • ‘…the tropical weather in Lagos will make it uncomfortable for cyclers’ – the Commissioner noted that “yes, the weather will make people sweat but offices will be urged to provide showers” to ameliorate the discomfort’

Helpful insights (comments from articles on the Okada ban and bike lanes):

  • ‘..this can work only when they do a serious and quick laying of road works that are in bad shape everywhere in Lagos particularly the business districts.’
  • ‘…roads are very dangerous –  low-lying and have dangerous potholes that pose as a high risk for anyone who wants to drive a car let alone a bicycle’
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~ by omonaij on November 4, 2012.

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