With average temperatures of 40 degrees for much of the year, it is not surprising that cycling is not big in Sudan. Any sort of physical activity is pretty challenging in this heat and this is an issue with many people being overweight and diabetes a growing problem (sound familiar!?)
However when you do keep an eye out for cyclists, you see that there are people using bikes to get around.
We are based in Khartoum, the capital. The roads are chock block, loud, fast, and the driving rules a little haphazard to say the least. The roads are shared with cars, trucks, lorries, rickshaws, street hawkers and donkey carts plus many people trying to cross multiple lanes when no pedestrian crossings exist. So you would have to be pretty brave to cycle along most roads. The back streets are unmade roads and very bumpy but there you do find people on bikes, particularly around the markets and outside the capital in the villages. On a trip into Omdurman, the old capital across the river Nile, early on a Friday morning I saw lots of people cycling around carrying out their daily business
The bikes you see around ridden by adults – always male – are typically from India, basic solid bikes with no gears. They do all however have great double stands to keep them upright when stationary. I have never understood why these aren’t more common in England as I am sure I am not the only one who has got really frustrated trying to get their bike to balance on a single stand with full panniers.
As is common in the developing world, bikes get used to transport all sorts of stuff – so what have I seen bikes commonly carrying!?
Liquids in big plastic drums across the back wheels where we would normally have panniers, the bread man with huge bags of bread dangling from his front handlebars and strapped to his bike rack. Numerous enormous boxes strapped to front and back of the bikes carrying all sorts of things, including tightly packed newspapers which must have been very heavy. I even saw a lawn mower very neatly strapped to a rear rack.
I also saw several bikes adapted for those with mobility disabilities, where they would use their arms and hands to pedal the bike instead of their feet.
Sadly I didn’t manage to snap any of these scenes, but did get a photo of a typical bike found in Sudan, together with fake flower and frilly seat cover – decorating bikes is also typical!