Urban and Regional Planner, lecturer at Makerere University Kampala, Uganda
Amanda Ngabirano Aziidah (born in 1979) studied Bachelor of Urban Planning at the same university, and a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning and Development in the Netherlands. She has been teaching at Makerere University since 2006 to date.
She also worked as news anchor and editor at a national broadcaster television in Uganda, for a period of six years. Amanda has a great passion, skill & experience in orderly and planned physical development for sustainability. She is also an excellent communicator, assertive, and very passionate about sustainable urban transport, particularly cycling.
Having lived in the Netherlands for only 13 months, she faced the cultural shock of high numbers of cyclists on all streets by all ages and both sexes. The attitude that cycling was a poor person’s mode of transport in Uganda, and that women were not expected to ride, was completely replaced with an impeccable and irreversible passion for cycling and its promotion in Uganda. If cycling is indeed for the poor, Ugandans should ride more than the Dutch.
To Amanda, the cycling experience was an amazing one, a symbol of freedom, innocence of not polluting the environment, and her health was unbelievably perfect for the whole duration. She was also able to save a significant amount of money because she had reduced her daily expenditure. This is what she wishes for her countrymen all around the globe.
She believes that cycling as an alternative mode of transport is being underestimated as a contributor towards the economic development in African Countries, and that land use planners and politicians have a major role to play in this. In her capacity as a lecturer and a managing director of Goudappel Africa, a land use and transport consultancy firm, she has succeeded in co-ordinating the first ever car free day in Kampala. Together with some other organizations, she also initiated cycle for fun activities at Makerere University where most students participate.
Amanda has also initiated a non motorized transport pilot project which has been accepted by Kampala Capital City Authority. Because of her passion for cycling, she has been nicknamed “Madam Bicycle” by some officials. Amanda believes, cycling has a very good opportunity in Kampala because there are quite many people cycling and more who wish to. Terrain, weather, attitude, and even lack of cycling infrastructure in Kampala are not excuses at all. The demand is huge, benefits undoubted, and the opportunity not grabbed by the concerned authorities.
If we have chosen not to ride, nor promote it, nor provide for cycling for ourselves as adults, and in positions to influence such decisions, let us not deny our children the right to choose after experiencing the fun, freedom and health benefits that come with cycling; for they are our future.