Here's the problem: In 2013, the World Health Organization estimated that 3,783 people had died in Rwanda due to road accidents. Although not always safe, "Mototaxis," or motorbike taxis, offered cost-effective transportation for low-income people and provided a livelihood for drivers. The challenge was to find a way to ensure safety of passengers and create jobs for mototaxi drivers.

Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons

Here's how one organization is working on the problem: SafeMotos is a digital platform that connects passengers with mototaxi drivers in Kigali, Rwanda. It incentivizes shared transportation by making it safer: Drivers are equipped with smartphones to monitor how safely they drive, by capturing and analyzing data on speed, acceleration, and location. SafeMotos drivers display distinctive red flags, which identifies them as safe drivers, and gives them a competitive edge in a crowded market.

Privately funded, and initiated by two locals who were themselves involved in a mototaxi accident, SafeMotos is not just an app: It's an initiative to help change the culture of driving in Kigali, and other African cities, with plans to ensure SafeMotos drivers are all trained in basic first aid.

SafeMotos' model, which also helps reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion, can be adopted in cities around the world.


  • By late 2015, 42 drivers had signed up and 3,000 trips had been completed using SafeMotos, with plenty of scope for the expansion of the system, as there are an estimated 10,000 mototaxi drivers in Kigali, according to co-founder Barrett Nash, in a piece published on
  • As reported by Huck Magazine, information about driver behaviour gathered by the SafeMotos app is combined with passenger ratings to determine a "safety score," and drivers must achieve at least a 90 percent rating.

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This case study is adapted from our latest book, "Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons." Get a copy today.

Header image courtesy of SafeMotos
Sharon Ede


Sharon Ede |

Sharon is an urbanist and activist who works to build the sharing/collaborative movement in Australia and beyond. In 2017, she established AUDAcities, a catalyst for relocalising production of food, energy and fabrication in