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About

Bio: Constant Cap has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He holds an undergraduate degree from the same university. He writes about urban planning issues online and in local dailies. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya he passionate about the planning issues facing African Cities. He has a deep interest in sustainable transportation, urban resilience and new urbanism. He is also a Graduate Member of the Town and County Planners Association of Kenya. He has previously worked at the Strathmore University Advancement Office. He currently works as the Executive Director of Kilimani Project Foundation.

Children CrossingOver 1.24 million people die and between 20 and 50 million are injured on the world’s roads annually. The largest portion of this burden is borne by those living in low and middle income countries. In Kenya, over 3000 people die annually on  the roads and nearly double that are injured. A large number of these consist of a particularly vulnerable group, children. Most roads are unsafe and unattractive for pedestrians,  especially for children.

Many children  living in informal areas have to walk to school on a daily basis which entails crossing highways or busy arterial roads. A good example are children from Mathare Valley in Nairobi, who have to cross the very busy and dangerous Juja Road. Last year no less than 10 school children were involved in fatal accidents on the same road!

The road design process  has  neglected  the importance of safe movement of pedestrians and particularly of children around schools, playgrounds and hospitals. During the construction of the Thika Superhighway, pedestrian crossings were only constructed as an afterthought following several pedestrian deaths.

Drawings of the City by Children from Mathare in Nairobi, Kenya all protray dangerous roadsSome educational institutions have  implemented  measures  aimed at making the roads around their institutions safer for their students. The University of Nairobi  has a subway under the busy Uhuru Highway, Strathmore University  constructed speed bumps on the public road that divides  its campus while Starehe Boys Centre and Pangani Girls school (both divided by major roads) have overhead crossings. City authorities have also put up speed bumps near some primary schools.

According to the National Transport and Safety Authority, there were about 2900 recorded pedestrian accidents in 2014. Although  reduced by 310 from 2013, the number is still high. As a result, the Kenyan parliament is working on passing an amendment to the Traffic Act that will see several changes in traffic and road management especially near schools.

The Highlights of the act include:

  • Curb traffic speeds at 30 Kph near schools, playgrounds and hospitals in  keeping with the global standard.
  • Erection of traffic calming measures, pedestrian facilities and traffic signs near educational institutions.
  • Set standards  for vehicles and drivers transporting students (as  there have been several  tragedies in Kenya  related to  student transportation).

Although it sets fines for offenders,  the Act does not specify whether those in charge of putting up signs, calming and other safety measures  will face any form of disciplinary action in case of negligence.

road safety graphicSeveral countries have also made some strides towards ensuring the safety of children near playgrounds and schools. In New York City, there was a recent petition to install safety bumps after a school boy was killed while crossing the street at an intersection surrounded by schools. The Swedish Vision Zero approach states that it is not acceptable for fatal or serious injuries to occur on the road system, and that account must be taken of human tolerances when designing road infrastructure. These include roundabouts, barrier systems, pedestrian crossings, pedestrian footpaths, traffic calming, signalized intersections, shoulder sealing, and off-road cycle/motorcycle paths.

Besides the law, there are also other challenges that need to be  examined other than the road users.  These include but are not limited to

  • Location of school entrances and playgrounds  away from major highways.
  • Grade separated pavements and walkways for children near all schools.
  • Well designed,  well  placed bus-stops for school buses.
  • Better monitoring of school bus drivers  as their influence on the children in the immediate instance (safety) and long run (as drivers) plays a key factor in road education.  
  • More regular utilization of the children’s traffic park as an educational tool (other towns also  require such a facility).

How much influence can a change in law have on children’s  road safety ? What has your city done towards ensuring that children are safe on the road?

Credits: Images by Constant Cap and from http://nextstl.com Data linked to Sources.

3 comments:

  1. The roads are also very unfriendly to those with any physical impairments. Should one be confined to a wheelchair, the pedestrian walks cannot accommodate their movement.

  2. I like the vivo and lollipop safety projects along Jogoo rd.Every morning (not sure about the rest of the day) there has to be someone assisting adult and children using zebra crossing.I have also realized there are NTSA team (according to what is written on the reflector jackets) positioned at city stadium all day long, but my question is how comes pedestrian run across the road at that point comfortably in their presence instead of using the flyover?

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