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

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 as well as poor traffic management, pedestrian figures in Nairobi tend to be quite high.

In spite of this, the pedestrian in Nairobi is best categorized as an ‘unwanted species’. Not only does the city provide extremely poor facilities for non motorized transit (cyclists are even worse off than pedestrians),but the city also consistently shows little respect for pedestrians.

african city planner pedestrians

Recent road projects have attempted to create some level of NMT facilities and pedestrianized mobility, however, a quick assessment reveals non prioritization of these facilities. The Japanese Funded (JICA) Ring Roads set aside space for pedestrians and cyclists pursuant to the notion of ‘enabling NMT’ . Massive gaps are visible in the systems especially at junctions. The Chinese-funded 8 lane Thika superhighway was constructed without a single pedestrian bridge or underpass. Only after several pedestrian deaths were a few constructed.  

A large aversion towards pedestrianized traffic is also evident in the development of Business districts and shopping malls. This is evident in both the Nairobi CBD and Upper Hill area, an emerging business district.

Nairobi’s CBD still has huge potential to develop into a people oriented city, especially with the relocation of most major corporates to surrounding zones. Unfortunately, the huge misconception that the priority in the CBD should be ‘parking and roads to eliminate congestion’ remains. Nairobi CBD’s majority populace accesses it through the poorly managed paratransit and the highly undesirable pedestrian walkways. Those who drive there only do so if they have no alternative. This ‘no-alternative’ ought to be viewed as a golden opportunity to transform some of the minimally used roads into complete walkways with open spaces.

africancityplanner

Various road repairs and construction activities also continue to deal with pedestrians as non- existent entities. It is common for contractors to pile up heaps of construction material on the pedestrian walkways in order to ‘allow cars to flow’ while subjecting pedestrians to the dangerous task of walking on the road. Alternatively, there are those cases where the pedestrian walkway is ‘removed for road expansion.’

Several cities that have had similar challenges have managed to slowly initiate the pedestrian agenda as part of the planning and public works process. First in line is the city of Bogota which emphasized pedestrian walkways in the city centre and safe access routes for the poor both within and around their settlements. Further focus was later put on ‘car free days’ and on the development of bike infrastructure. Under Jeanette Sadik Khan, the New York Department of Transportation was able to make a paradigm shift through the creation of pedestrian only walkways (like Broadway), wider pavements, safer cross junctions, and introduction of a bike-share programme.

The prioritization of pedestrians and their rights remains a heavy task for many African Cities. Like many western cities in the mid 20th Century, the automobile is still a fascination of economic empowerment. As a result, it receives priority over transit means through social hierarchical structures. With time, however, urban dynamics have proven that the need to prioritize pedestrians and other NMT users cannot be ignored. We look forward to the time when this will be the case in the City of Nairobi.

How do you find it to be a pedestrian in your city? Do you believe that pedestrians should have more priority and rights than drivers? Do other road users show some level of respect for pedestrians in your city?

 

Images by Constant Cap, Data Linked to Sources, Copyright africancityplanner.com

 

 

#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 […]

Nairobi, Kenya: No BRT due to Poor Planning?

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Transport recently stated that a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) would not be possible in the City of Nairobi. In his statement, according to press reports, he mentioned that the city lacked space for a BRT due to poor planning and added that to ease congestion, a commuter rail and expanded roads would […]

2016 African City Planner