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City Hall to spend Sh500m on bike, pedestrian lanes

City Hall will spend more than Sh500 million by June 2017 to build bicycle and pedestrian lanes along several city roads as it looks to grow the proportion of non-motorised transport (NMT).

In the medium term, the county government is also looking to restrict on-street parking in the city’s various commercial districts and turn the freed-up lanes into bicycle lanes.

Among the roads targeted for the lanes are Jogoo Road (10km), Juja Road corridor (10km), First Avenue, Eastleigh (6km), Kibera to Industrial Area (7km) Kibera- Westlands, and Kawangware to CBD (15km).

These are expected to be pilot projects as City Hall examines the viability of providing NMT infrastructure throughout the county. They will cover 91km in total.

Despite over 40 per cent of Nairobi traffic being non-motorised, the government has previously concentrated on providing infrastructure for motorised transport, a situation City Hall is trying to correct.

ENCROACHING PAVEMENTS

“The use of NMT is higher in low income areas of the city, especially informal settlements,” said Transport Executive Mohamed Abdullahi.

“An earlier study had established that about 64 per cent of all trips starting on Eastland’s Jogoo Road corridor and terminating in Industrial Area and the CBD (central business district) were made by walking and 0.8 per cent by cycling, with the latter largely stymied by the absence of supportive infrastructure,” Mr Abdullahi said.

He said that they will step up vigilance to stop motorists, especially matatu drivers and motorbike riders, from encroaching on pavements.

The county’s new NMT policy, unveiled last week, will also see City Hall progressively do away with parking slots on CBD roads to provide for bicycle lanes and parking slots which will be free.

“The county will progressively remove on-street parking and give space to cyclists and pedestrians,” the policy says.

“One of the strategies will be to make parking expensive and scarce within commercial districts to make cycling, walking and public transport more feasible and cheaper.”

DISCOURAGE PRIVATE CARS

Rob Jong, the head of the transport unit at the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), said that most cities in the developed world are discouraging use of private cars in favour of mass transport and NMT.

“NMT costs five per cent of a road’s budget but will carry up to 50 per cent of traffic and it’s clean and affordable,” Mr Jong said.

Although the government has stepped up road expansion and rehabilitation in Nairobi, the rising number of cars has outpaced these developments resulting in congestion and the attendant air pollution.

The policy cites a study done in 2013 which found that private cars, measured by volume on roads, increased by 106,000 accounting for 63 per cent of total vehicle population increase.

In countries like China and France, biking in cities has become commercialised with users paying a fee for using them for a certain period.

Once they are done, they leave them at one of the many bays spread around the cities.