Likoni Cable Express Line: Transforming Coastal Mobility The Nairobi Pedestrian: An Unwanted Species Blog Awards: Vote for africancityplanner.com #MjiWetu: Mixed Land Use is not Random Land Use #MjiWetu: Do Walls improve the Security of our City? Nairobi: Mixed Use Zones are Redefining the City Is Nairobi Central Business District DEAD? Nairobi, Kenya, faces a Growing Challenge of Noise Pollution Kenya: Teaching Public Service Drivers First Aid and Safety Any Future for Nairobi’s Dandora Dump Site? Nairobi, Kenya: No BRT due to Poor Planning? Nairobi and the 100 Resilient Cities Programme Nairobi’s Long Rains: A failure in Urban Resilience? Intern at The Global Grid Participation: Using Social Media in the Urban Planning process Nairobi Public Spaces: Viable or open for Grabbing? Kenyan Blog Awards: Blog Needs your Vote! Nairobi: How can buses help decongest? Public vs Private Urban Housing, what direction for Nairobi, Kenya? Aerial Cable Transit: Urban Gondolas for African Cities? How Sustainable are the emerging Private Cities around Nairobi, Kenya? Urban October: Public Spaces for All Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street: User Friendly or Not? Countering the Increasing Energy Consumption in Growing Cities Kenya: Two Railway Lines Running Parallel on Different Gauges Mi Teleférico: Worlds Highest Cable Car Transports over 42,000 people daily Cable Cars: Introducing the Likoni ‘Air-Line’ in Mombasa, Kenya Planners: Does Security in Urban Centres begin with you? Moving Urban Dwellers through the Air to alleviate Traffic Congestion When the call to drive at 30 kph in Nairobi, Kenya is necessary! Land use management in Nairobi, Kenya is key to reducing congestion. Nairobi, Kenya: Neglect of NMT makes it less safe, less convenient and less attractive. Nairobi, Kenya aims at Regularizing Unauthorized Structures How can Nairobi, Kenya deal with its ‘Buildings of Death’ ? Harmonizing Initiatives: Nairobi, Kenya works towards developing an NMT Policy

Likoni Cable Express Line: Transforming Coastal Mobility

The recent announcement of the proposed launch of the Likoni Cable Line Express comes at a critical time when mobility at the coast is in dire need of a transformation as well as an upgrade. Continuous urban sprawl at the coast coupled with increased population and a projected busier port has created further demand for mobility and access between the island and south coast mainland.

Many will initially be skeptical about the possibility and feasibility of installing a cable line over what seem to be other ‘obvious’ solutions such as a  bridge or tunnel construction. To the modern city dweller, it does indeed likely appear as common sense that the building of a bridge is the best way of linking the two.

Mombasa Ferry

A key element in mobility and access that is easily overlooked, however, is the first principle of ‘what are you moving?’ In this case, as is the case in urban transportation projects, the key objective is the movement of people first (and goods). The movement of people from one place to another precedes the movement of vehicles in importance. This is because, similar to ferries, cable cars and bicycles, vehicles are but a different means for the mobility of persons and goods .

The 1950s and 60s saw many North American Cities (and in recent times African cities as well) create more road space as a solution to increased mobility and congestion needs. This development was fueled by the increased use of automobile by individuals and families. At the time there was little analysis of land use management as regards congestion; in addition the correlation between ‘increased road space and concurrent increased vehicular use’ was not well understood. The more they tried to build their way out of it the more many of these cities continued to experience escalating congestion. Recent experience on Thika and Mombasa roads provides a good local assessment of the same.

A good case study was the construction of the Triborough Bridge in New York. It was expected to ease congestion on four other bridges that linked Long Island to New York City over the East River. As soon as the bridge was completed it not only surpassed its projected targets as per vehicular numbers, but it also soon started experiencing congestion itself.

It was estimated that 8 million vehicles would use the bridge in the first year. This estimate rose to 9 million within the first 4 months and later to 10 million as the amount of traffic kept increasing. Meanwhile, traffic on the four other East River bridges was not decreasing. The initial assumption that the 8 million vehicles that would use the Triborough Bridge would be vehicles diverting from using the other bridges only held for the first two months and within two years all four bridges were in full use. Eventually there was a realization that the facility that was to solve a traffic problem had actually contributed towards making it worse! The rate of traffic increase had now grown beyond any prior experience. In its first year, the bridge had generated 6,000,000 new on and off island motor trips. A $17 million project to solve congestion found itself even more congested in slightly over a year. (Adapted from ‘The Power Broker, Robert Moses and The Fall of New York – Robert A Caro)

Through such experiences many cities have been able to distinguish between human mobility needs (moving people from one point to another) and vehicular mobility needs. Unfortunately, many times we tend to confuse the two and prioritise the latter.

While analyzing the Likoni scenario, we ought to first ask ourselves whether Mombasa Island needs more cars on it. Its is said that Nyali Bridge (north coast) is already working beyond capacity and the Government is looking into the possibility of building another bridge in a bid to ‘decongest’ the island (add to the fact that another bridge will mean more vehicles coming ONTO the island). Is the island be able to handle a similar number of vehicles from the south coast?

The cable cars also offer us a variety of other options in line with the new urban agenda under the recently launched sustainable development goals (SDGs). By adopting the cable system, the island can also develop an adjacent mass rapid transport system that would reduce the need for personalized transportation on the island as well as in the south coast areas. Potential also exists for park and ride services in the south coast area as well as improved public spaces and pedestrianization opportunities, all of which are key for better retail services.

Other prospective advantages include controlled and better planned development in the south coast area which takes into consideration the need for protection of the sensitive coastal biodiversity. In like manner, the environmental impact that increased vehicles would have on the already poor air quality on the island could be taken into account.

Embracing disruptive technology as well as creative methods  are crucial elements we must examine to solve urban challenges. Copy-pasting or trying out methods that have failed in other urban areas will not benefit our cities. If South Americans were able to think ‘above the box’ and come up with BRT and CPT, what about Africans?

What other innovative ways can we recommend to make our urban areas more inclusive, sustainable and livable?

The Nairobi Pedestrian: An Unwanted Species

One of the most notable scenes in the city of Nairobi is the large number of people walking. Many of these people walk from the informal settlements to the industrial area and middle income neighbourhoods. It is understood that approximately 47% of residents in Nairobi walk to work. With a troubled and chaotic paratransit system […]

#MjiWetu: Mixed Land Use is not Random Land Use

Recent trends in urban development have encouraged cities to transform in a more ‘people oriented approach.’ This trend places emphasis on the importance of cities to be commuter friendly (walkability and connectivity), environmentally sustainable and to create opportunities for human interaction and cohesion. A strong sense of place in cities and communities has also emerged. […]

#MjiWetu: Do Walls improve the Security of our City?

Slightly over two decades ago, most residential fences in middle class areas of Nairobi consisted of natural trees like cypress or key-apple. For a city that doesn’t drain well, this manner of fencing greatly benefited it during the wet season, providing adequate paths for rainwater to flow towards the many small rivers that pass through […]

Nairobi: Mixed Use Zones are Redefining the City

Both Homer Hoyt’s Sector Theory of Urban Development and Ernest Burgess’ Concentric Zone Theory highlight how cities grow outward from a core district (the Central Business District) towards the periphery with distinct land use zones.  Without good land use management, cities run the risk of growing too far out, a concept known as urban sprawl. […]

Is Nairobi Central Business District DEAD?

The Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) has undergone a gradual transformation in the last few years that has seen it turn into a large bus yard and parking area for public transit vehicles (towards the east), a queuing zone for authorized buses (around the centre) and a large taxi park (towards the west). Retail stores […]

Nairobi, Kenya, faces a Growing Challenge of Noise Pollution

Noise Pollution is defined as a form and level of environmental sound that is generally considered likely to annoy, distract or even harm other people. The sounds we hear become noise when they are unwanted, that is, when they interfere with thinking, concentrating, working, talking, listening, or sleeping. By virtue of rapid and continuous growth, […]

Kenya: Teaching Public Service Drivers First Aid and Safety

The majority of public service vehicle drivers in Kenya have very little knowledge on first aid. When faced with minor or major vehicle accidents while at work, many depend on well wishers to come to the aid of victims. Kenya has one of the worst road safety records in the world. There were over 3,057 road […]

Any Future for Nairobi’s Dandora Dump Site?

The Dandora Municipal waste dumping site is Nairobi’s main (and only official) solid waste disposal site. The former quarry comprises a 30 acre expanse located to the east of Nairobi, about 8 kilometers from the city centre. The dumpsite is surrounded by both working class estates like Kariobangi North, Dandora and Babadogo as well the […]

2016 African City Planner