It certainly surprised one American tourist when he noticed several women giving their male friends a ride on their bicycle’s luggage rack on a sunny afternoon in 2006. Why wasn’t the man doing the work? Lack of courtesy? Emancipation? The reason is much more prosaic, I am afraid. Luggage racks are pretty hard on one’s behind. And the unspoken rule in the Netherlands is that the owner of the bike gets to decide who gets to sit where.
Three Utrecht students are now selling seats for the luggage rack. According to De Pers they noticed bicycles in Kenya kitted out with such seats:
Crossing the border between Kenya and Uganda in a motorised vehicle costs a lot of money. That is why people get off the bus and walk the two miles to the other side. Cyclists saw a gap in the market and started carrying people across the border. They would advertise their services asking “Border? Border?” That is how the bodaboda was born.
Quax [one of the Dutch students] would ride one of those bikes, and being white, people would stare at him, especially the time he offered to give his landlord a lift to the station. “The people who saw us did not believe their own eyes. This should not be. This should be the other way around. A white person should be on the back”, Quax said.
The seats cost between 20 and 27,50 euro, or 35 euro if you want your own design printed on them. You can also buy a complete bodaboda bike for 300 euro (shown above).
The students from Utrecht are happy when they spot the occasional bodaboda rider in their home town. In Kenia in the meantime the bodaboda has really taken off, and more and more often bodaboda riders use motorcycles. The Star publishes articles on boda etiquette (“place your hands on the rider’s hips around the waist”), and a local government has set aside 2.5 million Kenian shillings to train 500 bodaboda riders, also according to The Star.
Just remember, next time you hear Gers Pardoel sing “why don’t you hop on the back of my bike”, he’s not necessarily being a gentleman, unless he owns a bodaboda seat.