Developing an environmental education programme to address factors behind bicycle accidents of Chipata District, Zambia
This study investigated how Environmental Education might be utilised to complement law enforcement and other regulatory strategies in addressing factors responsible for bicycle accidents in Chipata District of Zambia. Chipata District has had a high incidence of bicycle accidents which were primarily addressed through law enforcement but with little improvement. Within this set up, the purpose of the study was to establish how Environmental Education could be utilised to complement law enforcement and other existing regulatory strategies in addressing factors responsible for bicycle accidents in Chipata District. In order to address the purpose of the study, the following specific objectives were addressed: to identify factors which contribute to bicycle accidents in Chipata District, to determine the type of traffic regulations enforced among cyclists in Chipata District, to determine environmental advantages of using bicycles in Chipata District and to propose an Environmental Education Programme to complement other existing measures in addressing bicycle accidents of Chipata District.The study was guided by Pender’s Health Promotion Model (Pender 1982; as revised, 1996) and the Integrated Support Theory (Kregael et al, 1998). These two theories complemented each other when coming up with factors associated with bicycle accidents in Chipata District and to propose an Environmental Education Programme for addressing them. The study utilised cross sectional descriptive research design and employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The sample size for quantitative data was 240 cyclists derived from a population of 500. Qualitative data arose from Focus Group Discussion (FGD) involving twenty five (25) respondents. Quantitative data was collected by questionnaires administered to 240 respondents and was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17, while thematic analysis was utilised for qualitative data. The findings of quantitative data showed that bicycle accidents in Chipata District were estimated at 67.5%. Most of the respondents (67.9%) involved in bicycle accidents were males, falling in the age group of 18 to 24 years. Main factors associated with bicycle accidents were: bicycle defects, lack of formal bicycle training, age (especially adolescents and young adults), alcohol and drug abuse as well as inadequate law enforcement. Qualitative research findings corroborated with findings noted above. Traffic regulations were found to be not enforceable in the study area. Beliefs, values and attitudes were also found to be associated with bicycle accidents. The study established the environmental advantages of using bicycles among cyclists, such as being a source of income. The study brought out a lack of cycle tracks, inadequate law enforcement among cyclists, cyclists not using bicycle safety measures like helmets, cycle lights and reflectors were factors found to be associated with bicycle accidents. Arising from the findings, the study proposes an Environmental Education Programme for addressing factors associated with bicycle accidents which includes the following themes: factors causing bicycle accidents, traffic regulations enforceable in the study area, beliefs, values and attitudes associated with bicycle accidents, environmental advantages of using bicycles, disadvantages of bicycle accidents as well as promoting safety among cyclists to enhance their wellbeing. In conclusion, the study found that bicycle accidents in Chipata District were a serious problem attributed to various factors which require a concerted effort among law enforcement officers, educational and other measures to address them. Based on the findings, the following recommendations are proposed for consideration: (a) Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to introduce compulsory use of bicycle helmets, cycle lights and reflectors for cyclists.(b) Road Development Agency (RDA) to introduce mandatory cycle tracks for all public roads. (c) Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to conduct capacity building among RTSA and Police officers on Environmental Education in line with the National Policy on Environment(GRZ,2009).(d) Traffic Police and RTSA officers to scale up Law Enforcement among Chipata cyclists. (e) RTSA to conduct awareness campaigns among cyclists on causes of bicycle accidents.(f) RTSA to introduce bicycle certifying training institutions, bicycle fitness tests, number plates and a data base for easy bicycle tracking. (g) Police training schools in Zambia to include Environmental Education in their curriculum as a complementary strategy in addressing bicycle accidents.(h) The Zambian Government to establish a unit within the Zambia Police Service and RTSA to offer Environmental Education in line with the National Policy on Environment (GRZ,2007).(i) RTSA to translate the Traffic Highway Code into Local Languages such as Chewa and Ngoni.