In the old days, apart from using animals such as donkeys, camels and horses for transportation and/or chariot attendant, some well-off individuals used bicycles to move from one point to another. There may be one or two persons in a village at that time who have the means to buy a bicycle.
However, when civilization came, the use of the bicycle as a pleasure ride was ignored because it was not as fast as the new invention – the automobile. Amenities enjoyed in a car are not present in any bike, such as the size that can accommodate more than 1 or 2 people on board. It has a roof that provides shelter from both the sun and rain in their seasons. The exposure to risks such as accidents is also minimal compared to the bicycle which is exposed to many hazards.
Traffic congestion on our roads where residents of Lagos are stuck in traffic jams for at least 2 hours, both in the morning on their way to offices/markets/shops and back in the evening, leaves a lot to be desired. In an effort to halt the ugly situation, the state government decided to build dedicated lanes on major roads within the state, procure new state-of-the-art luxury buses that take passengers from one place to another with the journey duly arranged, so that a journey from Ketu to CMS terminals, for example, takes no longer than 30 minutes on average. So far the government has had some successes with this innovation, but there is still more to do as we are still experiencing heavy traffic in the non-free lanes and this calls for serious thinking about the way out. All hands must be on deck.
The next area I would like the government to look into is the possibility of encouraging Lagosians to start using bicycles as a mode of transport in the state with the associated benefits to both the physical and economic aspects of our being.
However, as available from any venture/process/enterprise in life with advantages that must have disadvantages, the bicycle as a mode of transport in our urban cities, despite being exposed to accidental risks on highways and/or intra-roads, has many advantages that are by far the cons. They can be divided into physical/health, economic and environmental benefits.
The physical benefits of cycling as a means of transportation in our urban cities may lie in the form of physical fitness. Since most of the bicycles used in this part of the world are manually operated, it serves as a form of exercise for the rider burning unnecessary fats from the body, keeping him/her physically fit. This further extends to the stability of mind and soul. A healthy mind will always be ready to perform any task assigned effectively and efficiently due to its physical and mental condition.
1. The economy of any state is guaranteed by the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery within various organs of its system. Wherever there is wasted time, such an economy loses a lot of money. The bicycle as a means of transport ensures that there are little or no traffic jams on our roads; people will be able to carry out their business plans without stress on the road, as experienced for decades with thousands of motor vehicles driving to the same place at the same time.
2. The purchase cost of a bicycle is much cheaper and more affordable than the purchase cost of a car. A bicycle is just as economical to maintain as a car. Similarly, there is an opportunity for lower class people to own a mobility engine/machine such as a bicycle more easily than a car which facilitates their movement in and around the city.
3. Bike owners don’t have to worry about refuelling, especially when fuel is scarce.
4. Bicycles require little or no serious maintenance compared to cars which require periodic engine tuning and maintenance at least two or three times a year.
5. The space for bicycles is so minimal that 8 to 10 bicycles can be parked in a space that fits a car (ie a space of approximately 7.2 m2). As a result, more people are doing business in the city of Lagos without worrying about how to get transportation back to their destination at the end of the day.
6. Children are not left out of this endless list of benefits because parents can afford to buy bicycles for them without putting too much strain on their wallets. They are allowed on the road (legally allowed to drive a car) before reaching the age of 18 under close parental supervision.
Cycling on our roads will avoid the uncontrollable emissions of carbon monoxide, CO2, from thousands of vehicles that travel on our roads every day. This poisonous gas is dangerous to the health of our people and has always contributed to the high death rate of society. The same applies to the effect of CO on the ozone layer in the sky.
TO DO LIST
In order for the proposed system to be a success, the Lagos State Government must take a number of measures that remove the inherent dangers of cycling on our roads. The benefits, while numerous and plausible, will come to nothing if the government refuses to ensure:
1. As is possible with the BRT lanes reserved for government buses on most of our main roads, the government should create dedicated lanes for cyclists to avoid collisions with motor vehicles.
2. The government should enact laws requiring cyclists to wear crash helmets before setting out on their bikes.
3. Enforcement of the “right of way” of the Traffic Code to ensure that other road users obey the code at all times at our “roundabouts” and “intersections”.
Given the above, Lagos roads will be very safe to drive and we will all be proud to be a part of the Lagos floor. Then Lagos will be a state of LIFE AND GOOD HEALTH.
The school will be ruined oooooooooooo!