The business of bicycle taxis
There are currently some 5000 bicycle taxi operators in the Kisumu area. They can make between 300 and 400 Ksh per day. With that they support a household that usually has two or three more people. They charge a fee according to the distance travelled with an average of 5Ksh per kilometre. They sometimes make an additional charge for carrying baggage but don't differentiate according to the weight of the passenger! Sometimes it isn't possible to carry both the person and their baggage, so they combine with another operator and split the fee. Men always ride astride the bikes. Older women prefer to ride side-saddle, whilst younger ones tend to ride astride and tuck their skirt in between their legs.
There is plenty of demand for their trade, all through
the day, though some of the older operators complain that times
are bad as more and more people own their own bicycles and more
people have turned to bicycle taxis to make a living. Everywhere
you go in Kisumu you will see bicycle taxis operating. The whole
town seems to depend on bicycles. Cars are rare compared with the
UK and cost millions of Kenyan shillings. Everyone aspires to be
a car owner, few make it.
The taxis are unlicensed but the authorities turn a blind eye to the trade. It is not in their interests to try to stop it. However, some people think they are a menace as they do cause accidents. All the drivers I saw were men. Women do ride bicycles but there are no drivers that people have seen. They need a lot of strength to ride with a passenger. George, who showed me round, found the modified machine difficult to ride even without a passenger.