UNEP’s ‘Share the Road’ strategy for safe, sustainable cities

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Provide for pedestrians and cyclists and reap the benefits in reduced road traffic injuries, lower carbon emissions, better air quality and a more sustainable path of vehicle use, African governments have been advised.

This was the message of a ‘Policy Dialogue’ to promote safe and sustainable non-motorised transport, organised for African governments by the UN Environment Programme as part its ‘Share the Road’ initiative, developed in partnership with the FIA Foundation with financing through the Road Safety Fund.

Share the Road brings together environmental and safety agendas in the context of urban transport in low- and middle-income countries. In these countries the majority of people rely on non-motorised transport – walking and cycling – and are disadvantaged and often endangered on road systems which are primarily designed for motor vehicles. The overall aim of Share the Road is to catalyse policies in governments and donor agencies for systematic investment in walking and cycling road infrastructure, linked to public transport. The workshop and policy dialogue on 25 and 26 June was organised by UNEP together with the EU funded Transport and Environment, Science Technology Network (TEST). It is a key example of an initiative which is already delivering results and, as an approach to safe and sustainable transport, is an important contribution to the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and well positioned to contribute to the Post-2015 development agenda.

Opening the event, held at UNEP’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya,  Mounkaila Goumandakoye, UNEP Director and Regional Representative for Africa said: “Share the Road is an important example of a sustainable transport initiative. And it is crucial for Africa. We will experience an unprecedented growth in urbanisation from now through to 2030, and we must have the sustainable policies like Share the Road to cope with this.”

Rob de Jong, Head of the Transport Unit at UNEP said: “We are standing at a crossroads. There will be a huge growth in transport in Africa and fast developing regions worldwide but we have a choice. We must ensure that we take a safe and sustainable approach, one which enables people to access employment and services. This is what Share the Road is about. It is an initiative which can contribute to the post-2015 development agenda, which can combat road injury, tackle congestion and reduce carbon emissions.”

Avi Silverman, Communications Director for the FIA Foundation, participated in the Policy Dialogue and announced the philanthropy’s renewed support for ‘Share the Road’ in 2013. A grant of €150,000 will be provided to the initiative this year via the Road Safety Fund. Share the Road also benefits from co-funding from UNEP and the Government of the Netherlands.

Much progress has been made in Nairobi, site of the first Share the Road pilot. Rehabilitation and redesign of the 1.7km UN Avenue in Nairobi has taken place. Facilities include a three metre wide sidewalk on both sides and a three metre two-way segregated cycle lane. In addition to the UN Avenue Share the Road pilot other key demonstration projects in Africa were also featured at the event. They include Kigali, Rwanda, which is one of the fastest growing cities in East Africa undergoing intense rural-urban migration. Kigali’s strategy for urban growth includes a strong focus on pedestrian and non-motorised mobility. Efficient living patterns where basic services, markets and education centres are located within walking distances will reduce the reliance on expensive transportation modes to meet basic needs. The Share the Road demonstration project in Kigali will consider innovative street design principles within the Central Business District. In Kampala, Uganda, a Share the Road pilot project is being planned for the main commercial corridor in the central business district: the first section encompasses two moving car lanes along with a buffered cycle lane; the second section is a pedestrianised street with a cycle lane in the centre; and the last section is a shared road with a calmed one-way street with parallel parking on both sides. The project incorporates a plan to reorganise two taxi (minibus) parks, and links in with plans for a public transport ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ facility. In Bujumbura City, Burundi, the first steps of the Share the Road initiative have included an awareness-raising workshop to sensitise stakeholders to issues of non-motorised transport and to develop an action plan. The approved action plan includes targets and a detailed timeline for developing and adopting an NMT policy.