How to Use a Bicycle to Carry Passengers (Taxi)

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Bicycle Taxis

How a normal standard bicycle can be changed into a taxi to transport passengers can be studied best in East Africa. It is not a big deal to transfer a normal bicycle into a taxi. You have to consider three points: - the bike itself has to be a stable and solid one, good for heavy loads - you have to add a stable carrier (they are locally made in East Africa) - you have to put a cushion on the carrier In East Africa the bicycle taxi is called boda-boda when a usual standard bike has these accessoires to transport people on the backseat. The bicycle rider can also be called boda-boda. Bodaboda.jpg


The boda-boda taxis are part of the African bicycle culture, they started in the 1960s and 1970s and are still spreading from their origin on the Kenyan - Ugandan border to other regions. The name originated from a need to transport people across the "no man's land" between the border posts without the paperwork involved with using motor vehicles crossing the international border. This started in southern border crossing town of Busia (Uganda), where there is over half a mile between the gates and quickly spread to the northern border town of Malaba town (Kenya). The bicycle owners would shout out boda-boda (border-to-border) to potential customers.

Bicycles in use and type of work

Indian or standard roadster (bicycles are used with locally made carriers and a cushion to transport passengers and goods. There are big advantages compared to the expensive, slow and heavy Cycle rickshaw used in Asia.

In many East African and Central African cities and villages, professional boda-boda taxi drivers are common. Bodaboda organizations have been founded in many towns. They help to minimize the risks (dangerous driving, badly maintained bikes) by registering and licensing their members.

Motorbikes replacing bicycles

While the boda-boda bicycle is still spreading to other areas, in its area of origin, especially in cities in Kenya and Uganda, the bicycles are more and more replaced by motorbikes. The motorbike-taxis have taken the name bodaboda as well. In 2004, it was estimated that more than 200,000 men in Uganda were working as bicycle bodaboda and already almost 90,000 as motorized motorbike bodaboda.

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