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In Africa, cities strive to make roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians

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  Nairobi resident Cyprine Odada was so tired of traffic jams that in 2015 she decided to try cycling to work Her first trip on two wheels through the Kenyan capital was eye opening It was very scary and most of the motor vehicle users were not friendly said Odada a city planner There were many who thought that cyclists and especially women should not be on our roads Her experience was far from unique In Kenya and much of Africa pedestrians and cyclists routinely face hazards such as speeding cars crumbling sidewalks and during the rainy season flooding Every day an average of 261 pedestrians and 18 cyclists are killed on the roads of Africa Yet cities across the continent are taking what experts call encouraging steps to bring those numbers down Municipalities from Cape Town to Cairo are building cycle paths improving pedestrian access to public transport and rehabilitating urban infrastructure As well as making roads safer the changes could help reduce air pollution which kills hundreds of thousands of people annually in Africa by empowering people to choose safe and comfortable modes of transport with low emissions and avoid cars that spew soot Policies and investments that promote walking and cycling save lives and also combat congestion air pollution and climate change said Sheila Aggarwal Khan director of the Economics Division at the United Nations Environment Program Environment UNEP Although the continent as a whole is historically among the lowest emitters Africa s transport sector produced almost 330 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019 a number that is rising rapidly Many of the municipal efforts to improve road safety are outlined in a new report from UNEP the United Nations Human Settlements Program UN Habitat and the Walk21 Foundation The publication Walking and Cycling in Africa Evidence and Good Practice to Inspire Action is designed to encourage policymakers to make roads safer for all users particularly cyclists and pedestrians The one billion people who walk and bike for nearly an hour every day put their lives at incredible risk the moment they leave their homes the report said They must circulate on streets without accessible sidewalks They have to cross roads dotted with speeding cars or cross makeshift intersections Experts say that by building walking and cycling infrastructure cities can move people away from cars buses and motorcycles helping to alleviate the often deadly pollution that hangs over many people African cities A UNEP funded study found that ambient air pollution accounted for 394 000 deaths on the continent in 2019 In Nairobi for example the dominant type of air pollution is fine particulate matter PM2 5 The concentration of PM2 5 in the Kenyan capital was 14 7 micrograms per cubic meter according to data compiled by UNEP and IQAir a Swiss quality technology company of the air about 1 5 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization Vehicles that burn fuel could also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change Africa s transport sector produced nearly 330 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019 a figure that is rising rapidly Despite being the dominant mode of transport in Africa walking and cycling are generally the least considered in urban planning Infrastructure investments tend to focus on motorized vehicles including the growing number of privately owned cars The Walking and Cycling in Africa report follows the launch last year of the Cycling Cities Campaign which is supported by UNEP and UN Habitat The report called for systematic investment in dedicated infrastructure such as sidewalks bike lanes and highway crossings He urged cities to make roads near schools safer and encouraged officials to map public transport stops to ensure they are walkable or bikeable The report highlights a case study from Lusaka Zambia where officials with the support of UNEP and other UN agencies used accident data to map the city s most dangerous roads and intersections That data officials hope will be used to make targeted infrastructure improvements Odada the urban planner hopes to see more evidence based decision making like that in the years to come As an urban planner I hadn t initially made the connection between my work and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on our roads said Odada who now works with the Critical Mass Nairobi cycling safety group We need better road designs that incorporate bike lanes and better policies and laws to protect cyclists and pedestrians
In Africa, cities strive to make roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians

1 Nairobi resident Cyprine Odada was so tired of traffic jams that in 2015 she decided to try cycling to work.

nigerian newspapers read them online

2 Her first trip on two wheels through the Kenyan capital was eye-opening.

nigerian newspapers read them online

3 “It was very scary, and most of the motor vehicle users were not friendly,” said Odada, a city planner.

nigerian newspapers read them online

4 “There were many who thought that cyclists, and especially women, should not be on our roads.”

5 Her experience was far from unique.

6 In Kenya and much of Africa, pedestrians and cyclists routinely face hazards such as speeding cars, crumbling sidewalks and, during the rainy season, flooding.

7 Every day, an average of 261 pedestrians and 18 cyclists are killed on the roads of Africa.

8 Yet cities across the continent are taking what experts call encouraging steps to bring those numbers down.

9 Municipalities from Cape Town to Cairo are building cycle paths, improving pedestrian access to public transport and rehabilitating urban infrastructure.

10 As well as making roads safer, the changes could help reduce air pollution, which kills hundreds of thousands of people annually in Africa, by empowering people to choose safe and comfortable modes of transport with low emissions.

11 and avoid cars that spew soot.

12 “Policies and investments that promote walking and cycling save lives and also combat congestion, air pollution and climate change,” said Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, director of the Economics Division at the United Nations Environment Program.

13 Environment (UNEP).

14 Although the continent as a whole is historically among the lowest emitters, Africa’s transport sector produced almost 330 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019, a number that is rising rapidly.

15 Many of the municipal efforts to improve road safety are outlined in a new report from UNEP, the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) and the Walk21 Foundation.

16 The publication, Walking and Cycling in Africa: Evidence and Good Practice to Inspire Action, is designed to encourage policymakers to make roads safer for all users, particularly cyclists and pedestrians.

17 “The one billion people who walk and bike for nearly an hour every day put their lives at incredible risk the moment they leave their homes,” the report said.

18 “They must circulate on streets without accessible sidewalks.

19 They have to cross roads dotted with speeding cars or cross makeshift intersections.”

20 Experts say that by building walking and cycling infrastructure, cities can move people away from cars, buses and motorcycles, helping to alleviate the often deadly pollution that hangs over many people African cities: A UNEP-funded study found that ambient air pollution accounted for 394,000 deaths on the continent in 2019.

21 In Nairobi, for example, the dominant type of air pollution is fine particulate matter (PM2.5).The concentration of PM2.5 in the Kenyan capital was 14.7 micrograms per cubic meter, according to data compiled by UNEP and IQAir, a Swiss quality technology company of the air, about 1.5 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization -Vehicles that burn fuel could also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.

22 Africa’s transport sector produced nearly 330 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019, a figure that is rising rapidly.

23 Despite being the dominant mode of transport in Africa, walking and cycling are generally the least considered in urban planning.

24 Infrastructure investments tend to focus on motorized vehicles, including the growing number of privately owned cars.

25 The Walking and Cycling in Africa report follows the launch last year of the Cycling Cities Campaign, which is supported by UNEP and UN-Habitat.

26 The report called for systematic investment in dedicated infrastructure such as sidewalks, bike lanes and highway crossings.

27 He urged cities to make roads near schools safer and encouraged officials to map public transport stops to ensure they are walkable or bikeable.

28 The report highlights a case study from Lusaka, Zambia, where officials, with the support of UNEP and other UN agencies, used accident data to map the city’s most dangerous roads and intersections.

29 That data, officials hope, will be used to make targeted infrastructure improvements.

30 Odada, the urban planner, hopes to see more evidence-based decision-making like that in the years to come.

31 “As an urban planner, I hadn’t initially made the connection between my work and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on our roads,” said Odada, who now works with the Critical Mass Nairobi cycling safety group.

32 “We need better road designs that incorporate bike lanes and better policies and laws to protect cyclists and pedestrians.”

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