0 Replies Latest reply on Jan 24, 2018 3:45 PM by Jerry Rawlings Mbabali

    Africa’s future streets; “Share the road” a non-motorised transport project in Nairobi, Kenya.

    Jerry Rawlings Mbabali

      UN Avenue in Nairobi was the first model for share the road project


      “Share the Road” is a UNEP initiative, developed with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Foundation. It brings together the environmental and safety agendas in the context of urban transport with an overall goal of catalyzing policies in government and donor agencies for systematic investments in walking and cycling road infrastructure, linked with public transport systems.

      Sketch of the share the road project.


      Data and documentation on non-motorised infrastructure in Africa are scarce, and yet fundamental for ensuring that appropriate solutions are found for its advancement. The data and experience drawn from this Kenyan case study will serve to identify and highlight engineering, behavioral and policy issues, critical for the systematic promotion of investments in walking and cycling road infrastructure. Findings from the first Share the Road showcase project can be used to support educational activities among numerous stakeholders.

      Modern road furniture along the UN Avenue


      Investing in road infrastructure for walking and cycling leads to substantial benefits in environment, safety, and accessibility. It reduces emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, protects vulnerable road users, and increases affordable access to vital services and employment. Kenya became the first pilot country for the “Share the Road” programme, when UNEP began working with the government’s lead agency on urban roads such as the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) on a Joint showcase road, United Nations Avenue, as a demonstration project to help realize how road infrastructure that includes non-motorised facilities could benefit from policy changes. UN Avenue is located within Nairobi North Sub-region of Gigiri in Nairobi County.

      Safety is perhaps one of the main benefits that can result from this and similar projects. Statistics show that in Nairobi, vulnerable road users- pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists- account for 54% of all road fatalities. Road accidents’ data obtained from Parklands Traffic Police Department covering the last six months of the year 2017 (i.e. representing accidents on the road before improvements (representing the situation after road improvements) was used to assess the likely impact of road improvements on road safety. Whilst accidents affecting non-motorised transport users are mostly reported on roads with very high pedestrian volumes.


      Ideas for improving road conditions were developed by KURA and UNEP, and this led to the installation of new and improved non-motorised transport (NMT) facilities along the road, as well as the incorporation of drainage works.

      After reviewing the respective benefits and considerations of different road sections and cycleway typologies (uni-directional cycle tracks on both sides of the road, vs. bi-directional tracks on one side), the final road improvements on UN Avenue include:

      • Construction of a three-meter, two-way cycling track, on the west side of the entire length of the road, with physical barriers for protection from motor vehicles.

      • Construction of raised pedestrian crosswalks at key points along the road and at the Limuru Junction, to ensure safe crossing points and traffic calming for motor vehicles.

      • Installation of signage and road markings for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists


      Although the ease of access to destinations within the UN Avenue largely remained the same for motorists, a major difference has been made for pedestrians and cyclists. Results from Share the Road’s showcase project show increases in the average speed of pedestrian and cycling trips as road conditions improved. Better and more comfortable walking conditions (from an inadequate or non-existent walkway to a flat, unobstructed walking surface) resulted in a savings of 4 minutes per pedestrian kilometer. This corresponds to an increase in average walking speed from 3.5 to 4.5 km/h.

      UN Avenue is designed from edge to edge of the buildings following the principle of a complete street. By definition, complete streets incorporate infrastructure for walking and cycling, including signage, ramps and other facilities for the physically challenged. They comprise urban furniture like covered bus stops, street lighting, trees and vegetation according to the context as well as drainage works; sometimes they can incorporate rainwater harvesting facilities or retention ponds to avoid flood risks. Complete roads promote safety for all users and incorporate all of the principles of universal accessibility.

      Universal accessibility refers to the adaptability of urban infrastructure and facilities to the widest range of potential users, including people with mobility and visual impairments, the elderly, people in wheelchairs, people walking with small children, pregnant women, and people carrying heavy loads such as water or firewood.




      Would such projects reduce the levels of accidents, traffic jam and promote sustainable mobility in Africa?


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