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Cyclists on motor vehicle road

Cycling as a means of transport though not new in Ghana is only prevalent in a few cities. Within the north of the country for example, cycling is the predominant means of getting about. In this part of the country, it is common to find farmers, teachers and other professionals patronizing this form of transport. Recent Traffic Management and Safety studies by the Department of Urban Roads showed the following percentages of the populace who cycle in the following cities: Wa- 23% of trips, Techiman- 7% of trips, Bolgatanga-30% of trips and Bawku- 49% of trips.

In the south however, and in particular Accra , it is not generally seen as an acceptable means of transport. Most motorists see cyclists as a nuisance and the danger involved when using the roads is often enough to dissuade many commuters from cycling. A study conducted by the Centre indicated that 9% of the commuters in Accra do so by bicycle.

Cyclists therefore often undergo a lot of pressure when having to mix with motor vehicles. Cyclists' infrastructure is inadequate in most cities and regions.

Although governments have been passive about cycling, over the past few years, the Ministry of Transportation has prepared a draft white paper on National Transport Policy which captures cycling as a policy aim. Government needs to expedite action on the draft white paper on sustainable national transport policy to incorporate non-motorised transport. This would require a comprehensive study of non-motorised transport in the country and a preparation of a strategic document, which includes policy formulation, infrastructure provision and implementation procedures and safety provisions.

The new Road Traffic Act, 2004, Act 683 makes provision for cyclists. The Act 683, prohibits driving or parking on cycle tracks. The National Road Safety Commission has come up with a draft National Road Safety Policy document and it is interesting to note that it made provision for cyclists and other non-motorised transport.

These and other reasons are why the Centre for Cycling Expertise (CCE), which views this as a misrepresentation, was established with the view of offering a better appreciation for cycling. Cycling must be looked at as transport and not as culture. Driving a car is also not a culture of Ghana . With the recent discovery of oil in Ghana , it is expedient that government looks into the development of all forms of transportation before our cities become pro-car.

What is perhaps making the situation more difficult is the fact that people who want to cycle have not been given the opportunity to do so. The inadequate provisions do not meet the basic requirement of cycle facilities.

The present provision of cycle infrastructure may be regarded as piecemeal in that they only satisfy contract provisions of donor agencies. Recent donor support funds for road development in the urban areas of Ghana require some provision of cycle infrastructure. Much leaves to be desired with this kind of approach. Cycle routes on some of our roads end up being incoherent, environmentally unfriendly, unsafe and uncomfortable.

Ghana thus urgently needs a bicycle master plan that will guide decision-making and implementation of cycle networks for districts, municipalities and metropolitan areas. The Centre has initiated such plans for Accra , Tema and Cape Coast .
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