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.
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).
2. Policy Change
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.
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.
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.