AM A BIKER NOT A CRIMINAL

I loved watching Swaleh Mdoe “Tafakari ya Babu” at the beginning of the Kiswahili news – Citizen nipashe. I think that he partly influenced how I write my blogs because I always start my blogs with a short story about myself. I love sharing my experiences though.

I would bet we are many who when we started riding, we either hid our bikes in our friends and neighbors homes or kept our riding a secret from our families. I personally kept my riding a secret from my family.  I know a few other people who did keep their riding a secret and one or two who had to have friends keep their bikes for them and even attending training was a secret affair. The reason we all did this and many more will continue doing this is because the public perception  of bikers and the global stereotyping of bikers is that they are members of a “gang”, and “gangs” are criminals. Another reason which is more genuine and true is because of the fear of loosing a loved one in a bike accident.  The media has not helped as it does share all the bad but hardly the good about bikers. What is out there is gory videos and pictures of accidents and gang movements. We also have real accidents that majority have either witnessed or have watched and no one wants to loose their loved ones this way.

With a society fed with all the horrible news about riding a motorcycle, we partially understand the reaction and treatment we receive out there but again, we are in an era where we are able to sift the good from the bad. Safety on the roads “begins with me” and that’s for all road users cars, bikes, trucks and pedestrians alike.

Good guys love biker girls. 

 

I first came out about my riding on social media and my first encounter with this stereotyping was a friend commenting on my post that “good girls and wife material don’t ride motorcycles”. That was a very un-informed comment but looking back, he probably was also fed with lots of that horrible vibe from the media.  He may have said this with a lot of care for me as well. Ironically I met my husband 4 months in to my riding. So “good guys love biker girls”. 

My riding news would later be broken to my family prematurely and my mom’s jaws dropped.  I later had to ride to her place, make peace and ask for her blessings. We are now on our 3.5 years adventure and if there is anyone who has had a tough time accepting my riding, its my mom but receiving her blessing really made it easy for me to keep on riding. We all need to support bikers by loving them, appreciating them, giving them the riding blessings, incorporating them in to our infrastructure, policies, design and accepting bikers as our beloved families. Because we are nothing but family.

The stereotyping of bikers has made our day to day lives quiet unbearable. 

 In most places the life of a biker can be very difficult because of the stereotyping. Even though Bikers go through proper training and licensing process equal to that of all other motor vehicle drivers, they are treated simply as criminals or illegal license holders. If you haven’t looked at a driving license, it has a separate approval for each of the following also known as classes. Class A – Motorcycles, Class B – Small cars, Class C – Trucks, Class D – Mini vans, Class E – Big trucks, Class F – for disabled persons and finally Class G – tractors and earth movers. We are simply a Class A generation “wink”. However, in most cases, this has not saved a biker from the mediocre treatment out there.

We do acknowledge that there are genuine cases that have actually informed organizations, authorities and policy makers on implementation of certain laws that have made life of a biker very difficult. Such as thieves who go mugging on motorcycles but similarly we have the same from private cars, trucks, pedestrians and all.  But there seems to be a need to take time to differentiate between a good car driver from a criminal, a good pedestrian from a thief but no effort to see the difference between a biker from a criminal.

Every Bikers prayer is to have basic rights and be treated as worthy of kindness and respect.

Every time a biker is about to get on their bike and ride, a lot goes through our minds.  Actually, we have these conversations with ourselves throughout unless we are sleeping and dreaming of our bikes.

I wish I could draw a picture for you but I will attempt that next time.

We are loving people, religious, honest, family men and women, adorable sons and daughters, loving sisters and brothers, cherished nephews and nieces and fathers and mothers.  Every first Sunday of February, we gather in Nairobi Chapel to pray for our families, country, our bikes, roads and our government led by our very Honorable Reverend Nick Korir.

Everyday, we ask God to keep our bikes safe and if we missed anything during our post ride check, to help us identify it during the pre-ride check in the morning. We always make sure we check the mechanical health of the bikes after a ride and before the next ride.

We thank God for the journey mercies as we receive no or very little respect on the roads from fellow road users.  Many are the times drivers of cars, trucks, buses and mini vans push us off the roads or simply put us in a near death situation.  If there are people who have seen so many last days or minutes of their lives, it is bikers. We are constantly on the death list from you fellow road users.  We pray for all the drivers who put us close to “exit earth” and those who stop to check on us equally. We love you all because you mostly our families or friends.

We can never forget the the law makers,  Kanjo and cops who stop us and impound our bikes for riding on highways and into the city. We ask God to remind them of our licensed, insured and mechanically fit bikes and that we are legally allowed to use the roads.  We thank God for all those who make it through the roads with their bikes and pray for those whose bikes were illegal impounded and have to pay towing fees for being on legal roads.  Knowing we ride motorbikes instead of driving big cars so as to save money, decongest the roads and save time, we pray for provision of finances as our savings accounts are usually on one emergency withdrawal every 3 months.

We cannot forget our local authority and employers who, Dear Lord we engage you for provision of parking space for motorcycles and equal treatment. We ask for day and seasonal parking tickets just like for cars so that we all can be able to use street parking.  We ask God to reveal to them that our parking fee will contribute to the growth of the cities and towns as well as the economy of our entire country similarly to that of other drivers.

To our employers who have offices in building with parking lots but have never provided for motorcycle parking, Father we thank you for your generosity and pray that they share to all their children, followers and WORKERS equally without discrimination. Parking next to a barrier or having to squeeze the bike in some tight dark corners is dangerous. The office medical cover is at risk.

We remember all the landlords who instruct their guards not to let motorcycles into the compound even when you are a tenant in the particular compound. We ask you God to provide wisdom to the honorable landlords to know that tenants with bikes and those with cars are equal tenants.  It is worse when you are a guest visiting someone in those compounds, Lord, please summon their hearts too as much as their minds for they have value in cars and no value in bikes.  Declare the value of bikes and their owners oh Jehovah.

We ask that you become our Underwriter God and inspire wisdom into the Insurance companies who at the mention of a motorcycle, will run or give us a cover that is really no cover but a compliance paper.  We would love for motorcycle accidents to be included in the medical covers similarly to car accidents.  We would love for motorcycle riders to be granted Personal Accident covers just like everyone else.  We would love not to have to take a myriad of covers to secure ourselves but have one cover that caters for us like everyone else. God graciously hear our prayers.

We pray this trusting in you and your son Jesus Christ.

Amen

Every time we say Amen, we hope that on opening our eyes, all will have been granted but unfortunately that is not the case.  We are still on God’s waiting list. May be because when such as the recently Gazzetted Nairobi City County Public Road Transport and Traffic Management Bill 2018 draft was shared for our input, only a few did read and respond. You see, we too have a responsibility towards our well being. It’s my appeal to all of us bikers that “tuchukue control” by reading and contributing towards the formulation of laws and regulations that we so dearly want to include us.  It is by being part of our communities in each and every way that the community will realize that – We are Bikers and NOT CRIMINALS.

If you agree with this, please share this article using the hashtag #iamabikerNOTacriminal include your photo. We stand to be recognized.

Tafakari hayo – Braap Safe