Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moto, anyone?

Question: What's the fastest way to get through rush hour traffic in Kigali?

Answer: A moto!

Motos are fast, relatively cheap and exhilarating to ride. Yes, they can be dangerous as they weave down the center strip of the street dodging minibuses that are clogged with commuters and dump trucks that belch diesel fumes. Yes, they can be really scary the first time or two. But look at the front of the moto drivers on the left and on the right of this photo and what do you see? Each is carrying a helmet for the passenger. Passengers ride behind the driver, gripping handle grips on the saddle, protected by a helmet and full face guard and by the physical mass of the driver himself. Quite simply, these guys are professionals. (Neither I nor anyone I know know has ever seen a female moto driver.) Motos would be totally at home on the post-apocalyptic set of the movie "Mad Max" and for less than a dollar they'll take you half-way across the city. They seem to operate with the fuel gauge perpetually on "E"; but somehow they make an irreplaceable contribution to the transportation network of Kigali.

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