Paynesville Promotes Biking as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – The city of Paynesville held its Second Annual Health Fair on Saturday, September 12 to promote a healthy lifestyle for its residents. The fair was preceded by a bike ride around the city.

Mayor Cyvette Gibson said that the event was meant to get her residents in the mindset of consciously maintaining good health and a healthy lifestyle.

“Liberians in general, we have a tendency to only go to the doctor when we’re sick,” she said. “We don’t do physicals or checkups.”

There are not many statistics on the percentage of Liberians who conduct regular annual physical checkups. However, that number is expected to be small and most likely relegated to the small population of individuals with jobs that provide health insurance. Since only 20 percent of Liberians are expected to be employed in the formal economy, it is safe to say that much less than that amount would go to health facilities for a regular checkup.

Gibson said the goal for the fair fell in line with her general vision for the city.

“Our motto for the city is to ‘Maintain the Green’, but we’re trying to maintain our health as well.”

The fair, which was attended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, had an optometrist, dentists, and other doctors who could screen attendees and provide advice on diabetes, typhoid, malaria, ovarian and breast cancer.

This is Paynesville’s second health fair, and it is being held free of charge. Gibson said the city collaborated with local health practitioners to have them provide those services.

To start the fair, Gibson herself donned a helmet and mounted a bike to ride around Paynesville with ten other residents in the “Ride to Good Health,” an effort to promote biking in the city.

A poster promoting the bike ride and health fair. Photo: Jefferson Krua

A poster promoting the bike ride and health fair. Photo: Jefferson Krua

Despite the high level of poverty in Liberia and limited transportation options – where commuters can often wait in queues for one hour to catch a ride – it is surprising that more urban Liberians do not ride bikes. A visual survey of major and minor roads will find on average no bicycles within a 30 minute period while that same study produces hundreds of cars and motorcycle taxis.

The mayor could not say why many Liberians were not biking, but her goal was to increase biking in her city due to the health potentials.

“Once we have more people biking, we will have healthier citizens,” she said. “Every time you ride a bike, you know it extends your life by one day.”

Gibson was referring to a study of Dutch bikers that concluded that each hour of biking extends a rider’s life by an hour.

The mayor considers herself an avid biker and usually rides with friends around the city. She said unlike driving; biking gives her a “direct view of what is happening around the community.”

She agrees that at the moment, biking can be dangerous, but she envisions a city with many bike trails “where citizens can ride freely without being concerned about getting hurt.” For now, when she rides, she uses roads usually frequented by motorcycles and pedestrians.

At the biking event, Joshua Tamba said he came to participate because he likes exercising.

“Every weekend, I exercise,” he said. “I run, I do some cardio exercise.”

Tamba said Liberia’s roads were not adequate for biking.

“There should be position made for bike riders on the shoulders of the road, but nowadays we see kids riding bikes on the motorway,” he said.

Because he did not own a bike himself, he was hoping that there were some spare bikes available for participants who did not have any. Tamba ended up not participating in the bike ride.

Jani Jallah, the Public Relations Director for the Paynesville City Corporation, said they had two spare bikes, but those were already spoken for.

Fidel Nelson was one participant who brought his bike. He has been riding since age four and sometimes even rides to central Monrovia.

Fidel Nelson, a longtime biker, mounts his bike near the Paynesville City Hall. Photo: Jefferson Krua

Fidel Nelson, a lifetime biker, mounts his bike near the Paynesville City Hall. Photo: Jefferson Krua

Although he has not been involved in any crash or close calls, Nelson follows certain guidelines to keep safe.

“I observe my speed, and I’m careful when I’m riding,” he said.

While all his experiences with biking in Liberia have been without incidents, he would like to have protection gear such as helmets and knee pads, which he says are pricey.

Although the cost of equipment is a hurdle, Nelson believes that the main reason for Liberians not taking up biking is because they are lazy.

Featured photo by Jefferson Krua

Jefferson is a co-owner of The Bush Chicken. He has a Masters in Transportation Infrastructure and Systems Engineering.

The Bush Chicken is a young operation and we need your support to keep bringing you great content. Please support us.

Monthly   Yearly   One time

Gold Level Supporter—$250/year
Silver Level Supporter—$100/year
Bronze Level Supporter—$50/year
Or pick your own amount: $/year
Gold Level Supporter—$250
Silver Level Supporter—$100
Bronze Level Supporter—$50
Or pick your own amount: $
Contributions to The Bush Chicken are not tax deductible.

Related posts