I finally upgraded the helmet! And a couple of other things but what this means for me now is that: 1. Strangers will stop randomly mounting my scooter in the middle of traffic saying things like “Town ngapi?” 2. Security guards will stop automatically asking me things like, “Unadrop ofisi gani?” 3. Security guards will stop exclaiming “Haiya!” as soon as they realize I’m a woman then flipping it real quick and hitting on me. 4. Security guards will stop telling me to park my Boda boda outside hotels and restaurants. (Hi there @dusitd2nairobi!) 5. I won’t be leaving half of my face beat on the inside of my helmet! #Scooters #Scooterist #ScooterInNairobi #Nairobi
One day, I’m scrolling through my Instagram feeds and I see a post by one Patricia Kihoro. She had sold her car, and bought herself a scooter! If you saw a lady riding a motorbike in Nairobi, chances are you’ll hit the breaks or turn your head to be sure. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the community of female bikers in Nairobi is growing. I had to ask Patricia a few questions about her recently acquired Biker/Scooter life…
What piqued your interest in bikes and what was that moment when you decided it was time to get yourself a scooter?
Traffic in Nairobi. To be honest it just got super inconvenient to spend lot’s of time stuck in traffic, with my hand bag. Given the fact that I found myself opting to leave my car at home to get on a boda boda instead, it eventually became a waste having my car. I remember posting a picture on Instagram of the scooter I wanted about a year before I finally got one. It was a declaration of what I wanted and it finally came to pass.
Is biking something you wanted to do for a long time? Why?
It wasn’t really necessarily something I had always wanted to do. Not biking anyway. I just needed a way to get around faster. I bought a bicycle a couple of years ago, because I though hey, how about using a bike to bypass the traffic issue and then still have my car for when I need it, but the bicycle got stolen, plus it wasn’t always that convenient to cycle to meetings and the like and show up tired and sweaty.
Were there a couple of fears you had before you committed to biking?
Not really. Not before, but about a week in, I kept thinking, “WHAT HAVE I DONE!” It dawned on me that people on two wheels are pretty much invincible to motorists. We are considered a nuisance and that was scary.
How did you conquer them(your fears)?
I just kept riding, getting advice from friends who have been biking for a while, and just smiling at motorists more.
Has your life improved in any way since you started biking? How?
It has, mainly because of time saving, no frustration caused by traffic jams and the fact that I really enjoy riding the scooter. It’s a lot of fun.
Kenyan drivers are crazy, and our infrastructure is not exactly biker-friendly. Do you or your friends and family sometimes fear for your safety?
Yes! All the time. There’s a lot more “Text me when you’re home” and “Ride safe”. They also talk about my experience on the road a lot. And tell me what roads to avoid. They also offer me rides a lot more. Ha ha.
Would it be right to say that a woman on a motorcycle creates a sense of freedom and woman empowerment in Kenya?
I do feel a sense of freedom and empowerment for sure. There’s nothing as powerful as feeling like I took things into my own hands to improve my life in a way that’s considered brave and out of the norm. At the same time though, I am speaking only for myself here, because the women of Kenya are so diverse that freedom and empowerment comes in many different forms for us.
3 words to describe how Patricia Kihoro feels when riding her scooter.
Brave, Free, Punctual.