Main Article Content
Purpose: The objective of the study is to investigate and critically analyze the sustainability of bicycle taxi transport as informal business operation, the operators prevailing challenges and its contribution to sustainable urban transport and tourism development in Mzuzu City, Malawi.
Design / Methodology/Approach: The study was conducted with ten bicycle taxi operators, road users, and two city council and two government authorities in Mzuzu City, Malawi. The sampling technique for bicycle taxi operators was random to collect primary data whereas authorities from city council and government used a representative sampling technique to collect both primary and secondary data type (rules documents and regulations as well as by-laws). The research used both questionnaire and in-depth interviews. In this case, mixed-method approach suited very well with a small sample in a small tourist city.
Findings: The empirical results reveal that bicycle taxi operators are called periodically by road traffic officials and provide them with awareness on how to operate on the roads within the city. It also reveals that there is no law that restricts operators from riding a bicycle in the city. Furthermore, reveals that bicycle taxi operators do not cause accidents, but rather accidents are caused by several factors, among them: pedestrians, drunkards, not following rules and regulation by road users. Therefore, bicycle taxi users vowed to continue using bicycles because there are cheap and can take them anywhere motorized cars cannot reach. Despite a few challenges operators are facing, bicycles transport will be sustained, hence contributing to domestic tourism development.
Practical / Social Implications: The study reveals that bicycle transport should be properly formalized and integrated into urban transport in Mzuzu City which would lead to the creation of an environmentally friendly city; continued provision of affordable public and tourists transport; and improving revenue base for the city council, as they will be able to collect revenue from the operators.
The results of this study cannot be generalized since the researcher focused on one city with a very small population with a small sample size.
Novelty / Originality: There are very few studies or none existing at all conducted in tourism to study bicycle transport sustainability opportunities for tourism development in Malawi, and this may be first of its kind.
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