Share the Road’s First Pilot Country and First Success


The lack of safe crosswalks endangers lives and discourages walking and cycling.
Photo Credit: Brendan Bannon

Kenya became the first pilot country for the ‘Share the Road’ initiative in 2009 when UNEP began working with the government’s lead agency on urban roads, the Kenya Urban Road Authority (KURA).  KURA, as defined in the Kenya Roads Act, 2007, is the agency in charge of the management, development, rehabilitation and maintenance of all public roads in the cities and municipalities in Kenya except where those roads are national roads.

The impetus for this cooperation was two-fold: on the one hand, the global headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme is Nairobi, Kenya, so it made sense to work with the host country government in the new Share the Road initiative.  On the other hand, when there were two fatal accidents on United Nations Avenue, both involving children on foot or bike and a motor vehicle, it became clear that immediate countermeasures were necessary to ameliorate the situation. 

Focus Areas

1. Demonstration Project: Joint Showcase Road on United Nations Avenue, Nairobi

By late 2009, congestion for motor vehicles had reached an all-time high on UN Avenue, leading to the costly waste of fuel and time from heavy traffic jams.  Also, the lack of safe facilities for pedestrians and cyclists had led to two fatal accidents, both involving children on foot or bike and a motor vehicle, in the span of a few months in mid-2009.  To improve the situation, UNEP and KURA held the first meeting in November 2009 and discussed ideas for reducing congestion and improving road safety (see meeting document). 

The key countermeasures agreed were the following:

  • Construct a slip lane for left-turning vehicles onto Limuru Road and relocate the affected matatu station to the north side of the junction.
  • Expand, and where necessary construct, 3-meter wide pedestrian sidewalks on both sides of the entire road.
  • Construct a 3-meter two-way cycling lane on one side of the entire length of the road, with physical barriers for protection from motor vehicles.
  • Construct raised pedestrian crosswalks at key points along the road and at the junction – these have a dual function of providing safe crossings and traffic calming for motor vehicles.

Since this first meeting, UNEP and KURA have worked together to develop the design for the rehabilitation of UN Avenue.  Funds were mobilized through the Ministry of Roads in July 2010 and following the procurement process, Mattan Contractors Limited was awarded the contract in December 2010.  Construction commenced in March 2011 and progress is ongoing with the expected completion date in November 2011.

Bicycles are used as important tools in employment and income generation.
Photo Credit: Andrew Hall

The new and improved UN Avenue will be promoted as a joint showcase road not only in Kenya but in the whole region of Africa.  The design of the road features top-quality walking and cycling facilities, the first of its kind in Kenya and most of Africa.  Furthermore, UN Avenue will serve as a real example of a 'sustainable road' and not an exception to business as usual. This is because of the policy change that took place in Kenyan government in 2011 (see more information below).

In order to evaluate the benefits of UN Avenue, UNEP appraised the non-motorised transport (NMT) infrastructure through quantitative and qualitative analyses, including on-site observations and semi-structured interviews of users. The objectives of the evaluation was to demonstrate evidence of good practices that assist in the adoption of policies which ensure predictable and sustainable investment in NMT infrastructure; assess direct and indirect effects of road improvements in the use of NMT modes at neighborhood and sub-city level, and identify further obstacles and strategies for expanding its use (including the necessity of provision of NMT networks); adhere to the efforts of improving road safety on Nairobi roads; and follow up on Kenya’s progress towards achieving certain objectives of the “Eastern Africa Regional Framework Agreement on Air Pollution (Nairobi Agreement-2008)”, that are specific to NMT.

Key outcomes stemming from the evaluation included insights to the challenges of designing optimal NMT infrastructure (the experiences and observations made will be useful to develop design standards at regional and city level); need for further in-site observations that will help determine what type of facilities adapt better to the local context, and respond best to the needs of the people in Nairobi; and further promotion of awareness raising and activation campaigns, including creation of a civil society platform for stronger engagement and advocacy of the interests of pedestrians and cyclists. The complete evaluation report can be downloaded here .

2. Policy Change: Kenyan Urban Roads Authority

UNEP has been engaging with various government bodies, donor agencies and civil society organisations (CSOs) since 2009 to advocate systematic investments in walking and cycling road infrastructure.  Bilateral discussions have been held with the following to introduce the Share the Road initiative, learn about the agency/organisation’s work in the area of non-motorised transport and/or discuss possible cooperation:

  • Government: Kenya Urban Roads Authority, Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development, Ministry of Transport
  • Donors: African Development Bank, Agence Francaise de Developpement, European Union, Japanese International Cooperation Agency, World Bank
  • CSOs: Chariots of Destiny, Climate Excellence Africa, World Bicycle Relief, Worldbike, Uvumbuzi

Where relevant, UNEP has provided policy support in the form of comments to policy papers and studies, as well as participation in committees such as the National Road Safety Council’s sub-committee on long-term planning for the Decade of Action, chaired by the Ministry of Transport.  The most outstanding impact of the Share the Road initiative has been in the close cooperation with the Kenya Urban Roads Authority which led to not only the showcase road but systematic policies for walking and cycling road infrastructure.

In 2011, the Kenyan government adopted a policy change to integrate walking and cycling facilities on all new urban road projects. Such infrastructure for non-motorised transport (NMT) is being incorporated in donor-supported projects as well. In fact, Kenya now demands a safety audit on all donor-support road projects.

Mr. Mounkaila Goumandakoye, Director, UNEP Regional Office for Africa, delivering the welcome address during the workshop

In June 2013, UNEP and the Transport and Environment Science Technology (TEST) Network organized a Policy Dialogue at the UNEP headquarters in Gigiri. The main objective of the workshop was to support transport stakeholders and policy makers in Africa to implement sustainable urban mobility through systematic investments in walking and cycling infrastructure.

More on the workshop, including the recommendations, presentations and other documents can be viewed here. At the end of day one of the workshop, the world marathon record holder and UNEP Clean Air Initiative patron Patrick Makau, joined school children, Kenya Red Cross representatives and delegates in a, ‘Long Short Walk’ (LSW) event that was jointly organized by FIA Foundation and UNEP. The walk took place along UN Avenue, StR’s first demonstration project. More on the event can be viewed here.

In October 2013, UNEP hosted the Kenya Civil Society Partnership Forum as part of the Global South-South Development Expo. The event brought together 35 organizations with a remit for Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) and Road Safety to discuss approaches and strategies for achieving sustainable urban mobility through collaborative and partnership working. This first of its kind forum allowed important discussions to take place focusing on NMT and Road Safety challenges in Kenya and the importance of collaboration between Civil Society organizations in order to improve urban mobility in the region. Existing innovative Civil Society collaboration solutions were also presented from the Rongai Matatu Welfare Group and from Management Sciences for Health.

The event was a great success with an agreement to set up a formal Kenya Civil Society Network for ongoing collaboration and partnership. Ultimately, by bringing like-minded civil society organizations together, they will be empowered to form powerful collectives for catalyzing investments in walking and cycling infrastructure. Addressing these common interests will result in a win-win-win situation for reducing harmful air pollutants and climate emissions, improving road safety and increasing accessibility for all.


Participants during the training.
Photo Credit: YOURS

In November – December 2013, UNEP hosted the second edition of the Training of Facilitators for Youth and Road Safety, at the UN Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. 14 youth leaders from a range of local and national Kenyan Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) trained on key road safety theory and facilitation skills. During this year’s training, an additional session on non-motorised transport was incorporated with the following learning outcomes that would enable participants to:

  • Explain what NMT is, identify its importance and recognize its three key pillars;
  • Identify how NMT promotes social inclusion; and
  • Demonstrate how to support education, awareness building, social marketing and advocacy efforts for promoting NMT.

Participants got the opportunity to give testimonials of their experience at the end of the training, and concurred with the fact that the sessions were highly interactive, brain friendly and youth oriented. One participant, Becca Mugo from the Pamoja Road Safety Initiative was quoted as saying, ‘I think it’s very life changing because I’m looking at things very differently now. Like this morning I was with a motorist and I was telling him, hey why aren’t you wearing a helmet? I think that it is very important that you should’. A workshop report was prepared by facilitators, which highlighted among other outcomes, a before and after evaluation of the workshop to gauge participants understanding of topics addressed – including feedback on the additional NMT session. More on the training can be viewed on the YOURS website.

In December 2014, the Nairobi City County agreed to collaborate with the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) and UNEP to develop a Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) policy and associated Investment Matrix for Nairobi. An initial stakeholders consultative process took place on 17 December 2014, to demonstrate county government’s commitment, introduce the policy development process to stakeholders, and build consensus on a framework that will form the basis of the draft policy to be developed.

3. Policy Development: Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) Policy for Nairobi

UNEP supported the Nairobi City County Government to develop a Non Motorised Transport (NMT) policy for Nairobi which was launched in March 2015. The policy aims to develop and maintain a transport system that fully integrates NMT as part of the Nairobi transport system. The policy will act as a catalyst in creating a safe, cohesive and comfortable network of footpaths, cycling lanes and tracks, green areas, and other support amenities. It will also spearhead the introduction of laws and regulations to ensure that NMT facilities and areas are prioritized.

Partners in Kenya

  • Climate Excellence Africa: Climate XL is an international NGO specializing in climate change analysis, research and policy support.
  • International Road Assessment Programme: iRAP is a registered charity dedicated to saving lives through safer roads by inspecting high-risk roads and developing Star Ratings and Safer Roads Investment Plans with government and NGO partners. 
  • Kenya Urban Roads Authority: KURA’s mission is to professionally provide a quality, safe and adequate urban roads network that satisfies stakeholders’ needs. 
  • Ministry of Roads: The Ministry is responsible for the development, maintenance and rehabilitation of the country’s road network. 
  • Ministry of Transport: The Ministry formulates transport policies, develops the regulatory framework to ensure harmony and compliance with international standards and supervises transport service delivery. 
  • Uvumbuzi: Uvumbuzi facilitates and engages in environmental and wildlife conservation, as well as the promotion of cycling as an active and eco friendly means of transport for leisure, better health and wealth creation/ employment.

Key Reference Documents

  • iRAP Kenya Results 2009: This report presents Star Ratings and road safety countermeasure programmes for more than 2,500km of roads in Kenya.  It identifies opportunities to prevent deaths and serious injuries on both urban roads in Nairobi and inter-urban roads.