Finally, Google Maps has brought Motorbike Mode to the African roads; albeit in a somewhat beta mode as it is not available in all the country. Well, it is not even available in most of the countries; except for Kenya.
Motorbike mode as the name suggests is a Google Maps navigation mode tailored for commuting on the two-wheelers. Previously, users in Africa had to make do with routes tailored for automobiles. Sometimes the routes were longer and took you across heavy traffic, things commuters on motorbikes can easily avoid by riding the narrow paths.
This development also comes as good news to ‘boda boda’ (motorbike taxis) operators in the country. They will now be able to use the full potential of Google Maps on Kenyan roads complete with the turn-by-turn voice navigation for safety.
“Every day we make decisions about where to go, how to get there when to set out; and Google Maps can help with these choices. The motorbike or ‘boda boda’, has become a popular way to get around in Kenya with over a million Kenyans using motorbikes as their preferred mode of transport.
Today, for the first time in Africa, we’re excited to announce a dedicated travel mode for motorcycles, which will provide directions and voice navigation. We hope that motorbike mode will help keep Kenyans on the move and we’ll be working to make the feature even more useful in the coming months.” – Google Africa Blog.
Motorbike Mode in Google Maps for Africa playing catchup
In most parts of Africa, bicycles and a bit recently motorbikes have been used as taxis. They are not a new concept in most parts of Africa. However, it is only recently that markets such as North America and Europe have seen a significant number of people using this mode of transportation.
Ironically, it is now that Google is introducing the feature in Africa. While in some markets such as North America and Europe it has been available for quite a long time now. It is also interesting to note that taxi-hailing companies (most of which trace their roots from North America or Europe) make motorbike ride-hailing an afterthought when launching their service in Africa. For instance, both Uber and Taxify just recently launched th option for commuters calling for motorbike taxis (boda boda).