Addressing transportation and logistics for Nairobi residents using non-motorized means

Hilary Nicole Zainab Ervin, Nairobi Community Manager
Nairobi, 7 July 2015

A number of studies over the past five years have identified the significant risk to pedestrians and bicyclists operating in and around Nairobi. During a three-month period of study on traffic accident victims admitted to the Kenyan National Hospital, over 59 percent were pedestrian.

Walking remains the primary mode of transportation to and from work every day for more than 50 percent of Nairobi residents. Though less than 20 percent of Nairobians own private vehicles, the current transportation infrastructure is designed overwhelmingly in their favor. At least 60 percent of the city's population commutes using non-motorized means, predominately walking and bicycling. On March 7th, 2015 the Nairobi City Council released its Non-Motorized Transportation (NMT) policy to redesign the city's integrated spaces of transportation.

The NMT policy seeks to recommit 20 percent of the all funds allocated to roads towards the construction of non-motorized transportation and public transportation infrastructure. The aim of the policy is to fully integrate non-motorized transport into the wider Nairobi transportation system. Envisioned as a network of safe walking spaces and footpaths, bicycle lanes, green space and other support amenities, the policy also seeks to mainstream appropriate laws an regulations to ensure that the NMT policy remains operational.

The policy is the result of collaborative efforts between the Nairobi City County, the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations, the FiA Foundation, and the United Nations Environment Programme. The partners for implementation are Climate Excellence Africa, International Road Assessment Programme, Kenya Urban Roads Authority, Ministry of Roads, Ministry of Transport, and Uvumbuzi.

A number of outside organizations have also been active in addressing the safety and logistics of increased incorporation of non-motorized transportation corridors as well. Ma3route, the app that provides matatu commuters with real-time updates on traffic and congestion in the Nairobi area, recently launched an initiative to track and map accident data submitted via the social web.

A group called the Naipolitans runs an active blog that discusses critical safety and transportation issues across Nairobi communities, promotes development efforts in the transportation logistics and human services arena, and advertises upcoming community networking and activist efforts. Another excellent site to find research and discussion on transportation issues covering both Nairobi and Kenya more broadly is the Nairobi Planning Innovation site.

An opinion poll released in June 2015 by Ipsos Ltd. and discussed on the Nairobi Planning Innovations site shows that residents do not feel adequately included in the development of policy and planning efforts executed by experts. Across the board, Nairobians feel strongly about reduced speed limits, especially near schools, and that increased integration of non-motorized infrastructure is critical to address the excessive commute times the capital has become known for.

A number of other key findings came to light through the poll, which can be found in full here. As a final note, issues of sustainability and environmental health continue to be central aspects of consideration in designing more efficient and lower-carbon-emitting urban transportation infrastructure. It is encouraging to see the recent efforts at the policy and institutional level. The next step is to find effective ways to incorporate citizens within the planning process.

Photo: makeroadssafe.

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