At the Africa Clean Mobility Week conference last month, UN Environment Share the Road Programme organized an NMT Pecha Kucha session on the future of walking and cycling. The session involved an interactive pecha kucha presentation which utilized visual images and efficient use of words to create a seamless, memorable, meaningful and concise presentation on non-motorized transport. The event was facilitated by Winnie Mitullah, Director, Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi.
Carly Koinange, Share the Road Global Programme Lead presents on the topic. ‘Is Africa ready for bike share schemes?’ Unlike health, education and housing, mobility problem tends to get worse as cities get richer. Bike share however, has the power to change this. Even though clean vehicles are necessary, they will not solve the congestion problem. Bike shares provide a smart, human-powered, feasible and convenient transportation.
“Would a 10-year old, on an average street in your city, be able to safely walk to the local shop from their house, buy a popsicle and walk home safely before it is melted?” Sean Cooke, Researcher at the University of Cape town challenges the audience on whether their city would pass the popsicle test. Children have the right to walk and cycle their streets safely, but their needs are often ignored by city planners.
Chris Kost, Africa Director, Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) presents on “How do we design streets for people, not cars?” Streets play a critical role in how the increasing number of people in our cities move about, interact and conduct business. But often, city planners forget to design streets for the people who use them, instead focusing on designing cities for cars.
On Promoting Sustainable Transport Infrastructure:
It was noted that a large proposition of the population in Africa walk or cycle, yet the infrastructure for walking and cycling in the region is largely inadequate. The session outcome had six recommendations on promoting sustainable transport infrastructure. These were:
- Countries are encouraged to promote well integrated modal transport. Mobility policies and planning need to put people first (including vulnerable groups), prioritizing walking, cycling, and public transport over other modes. Where other modes are unavoidable, they should be low carbon (electric mobility).
- Best practices on sustainable and equitable transport infrastructure are already showcased in African urban areas. Countries are encouraged to leverage and adopt similar practices and policies in line with their contextual situation.
- The inclusion of gender, child and other vulnerable groups is critical to ensure transportation is accessible to all.
- There is a significant lack of baseline data on walking and cycling in Africa. Urban areas are encouraged to invest in data gathering to allow for critical evaluation of the cost benefit of non-motorized transport infrastructure taking road safety and public health into account, especially for vulnerable groups.
- There are already many existing financing mechanisms and partnership opportunities to support mobility today in African cities. Policymakers are encouraged to look at innovative ways of shifting these mechanisms to promote cleaner mobility pathways. Development partners are urged to mainstream financing of public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure into road investment projects.
- African transport corridors are highly mixed use, also serving as commerce corridors (e.g. street vendors). Urban areas are encouraged to look at innovative designs that integrate this mixed use in a suitable way so as to increase buy-in from all stakeholders.