Technology firm Google Monday introduced a motorbike mode on its maps, offering routes, traffic information and voice navigation service for riders in Africa for the first time.
Streets in Kenyan cities and towns are often poorly signposted and frequently congested, making it hard for boda-boda operators to pick up customers when they hail them by phone.
The motorbike mode in Google Maps plots routes that are best suited to riders, roads that have less traffic, estimated travel times and voice navigation that guide riders to their destination and pick-up points.
“Kenya has more than one million motorcycles on the roads. They use unconventional routes and shortcuts. This is a travel map for the two wheelers,” said Jeff Albertson, product manager Google Maps.
The service is already available in some countries including India where motorcycles are a popular mode of transport.
Kenyan roads are full of boda- bodas, that are much cheaper rides compared to car taxis, and have emerged as jobs creator in an economy that has the highest youth unemployment in East Africa.
“With Google Maps’ new Motorbike Mode, users across Kenya will now be able to get directions and turn-by-turn navigation, to suggest routes that are more efficient,” Google said.
Google added that it was launching its Street View service in Kenya for the first time, allowing users to virtually explore via images of streets, cities, and parks on 9,500 km of roads with a single click. It will feature main cities, roads and heavily visited places such as Masai Mara and tourist destinations including Mombasa and Malindi.
“Users on Google are keen on Kenya whether to visit or just for curiosity. They want to know more about the scenery and the wildlife,” said Mr Albertson.
He stated that the global interest in Kenya made it ideal to have as one of the about 45 countries on Streetview.
Street view made a mini debut in Kenya in 2015 when Samburu National Reserve was added on to the map feature. It offers a 360 degree image of a street or area.