What are the Bicycles like?

They are all the same type, though of different makes, often imported from China. They were bought originally in Nairobi but are now available in Mtoti Andei. A cheap version costs about 3000Ksh (£30) with more sophisticated versions up to 7,000 (£70). Jeremiah, ITDG's transport specialist, says, "In the interior, away from the main road, you can't really do anything without having a bicycle." We talked to one of the shopkeepers in Mtoti Andei who sells 10 per month and reckons that they sell at least 50 per month in the market where his shop is situated.

They have brakes, dynamo-powered lights but no gears, making uphill journeys very hard work. They will often dismount when faced by a small incline. There is a standard size bicycle for both men and women. Some women are paravets, though the majority are men. Bikes are used for all sorts of purposes - carrying someone else sitting on the rack behind the saddle, carrying materials to and from market, carrying water, carrying firewood. Anything carried is usually tied to the back or handlebars. They are "sit-up-and-beg bikes" with heavy steering and no suspension. It is possible to buy improved saddles with springs that cushion the bumps to a small extent. They are a tough people - they need to be - so they are used to the discomfort of riding over bumps etc. However, we would think the bikes are very heavy, without any additional burden.

Tyres are standard pneumatic. This is a serious problem since punctures are commonplace from the many thorns that blow onto the tracks or are on the farms where the paravets ply their trade. Repair kits can be expensive so, although they can usually repair simple punctures, anything worse will mean a long walk to have a repair done.

They don't usually have any carriers at the front. Although they may carry produce there, it tends to make steering more difficult, and it isn't easy at the best of times. You don't see panniers either, though water cans are carried either side of the rear wheel, tied to the rack.


Before you begin

Web references

Specific design context
1. Product Design - A portable carrier

2. Product Design - An improved bicycle taxi seat

3. Product Design - Firewood Carrier

1. A portable carrier for vets

The area where paravets work

The origins of the roads
What are the roads like?
What are the bikes like?
How do they carry their equipment now?
What's wrong with current methods?
What distance do they travel daily?
What's their ideal carrier?
What diseases do they Treat?
What equipment do they carry?
What carrier making skills and materials are available?

  2. An improved bicycle taxi seat

The area where the taxis operate

The bicycle taxi business in Kisumu
What's a bicycle taxi like?
What are the current problems?
What would be an ideal bicycle taxi?
Have they tried other ideas
What materials and skills are available locally?
A bicycle taxi for a paravet?