share the road – connect streets with people

Where pedestrians and cyclists matter in road design

In Africa, there are no sidewalks in more than 65 percent of the road network, forcing pedestrians and cyclists to commute in unsafe and unpredictable conditions. The lack of consistent and reliable infrastructure for these people, who are often the poorest and most vulnerable, contributes to the aggravation of inequalities and unacceptably high road deaths.

Unfortunately, the priorities on the street, as is common in some cities around the world, do not serve the needs of the majority.

In Zambia, for example, pedestrians accounted for 60 percent of the total deaths in road accidents in 2016. These numbers are alarming, as in the capital Lusaka only 10 percent of people use private vehicles, while 65 percent walk and 24 percent use public transportation.

In the past, efforts have been made to install walkways and cycle paths to ensure safe and separate mobility. However, these initiatives remain largely uncoordinated and have left much of the road network without any of the facilities. Pedestrians are displaced to the edge of uneven and dusty roads that endanger their safety and their livelihood.

“Sometimes when you want to cross the road, there is no one to help,” says umbrella seller Jack Mwamba. He has to follow the streets of the city in a wheelchair.

Mr. Mwamba and others interviewed as part of the Pedestrian First project led by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Local Government believe the government should ensure safe passage for people in the streets of the city is.

However, there is some hope for Mr. Mwamba and the 23.6 million other Zambians who are expected to live in cities by 2030.

The rapid population growth not only provides opportunities for useful research, but also raises important and urgent questions about transportation planning. This is because increasing population sizes are usually associated with increasing traffic congestion.

Congestion is a major obstacle to economic growth, competitiveness and poverty alleviation, while vehicle pollution through increasing motorization also contributes to respiratory diseases and climate change.

Improved road infrastructure and the investment to make Lusaka a livable city will bring benefits to the Goals for Sustainable Development, from Goal 3 (Good Health and Wellness), to Goal 8 (Decent work and economic growth), to Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities) and Goal 13 (Climate Action).

This is a critical moment for cities like Lusaka that are growing rapidly. The Government of Zambia is working on strategies to overcome transport planning challenges. The ongoing Lusaka Decongestion Project, for example, offers a look at what urban mobility might look like in the near future of the country.

The $ 289 million initiative is jointly funded by Exim Bank of India and the Zambian government. It aims to improve existing streets and widen up to 65.64 kilometers (km) of road, create two-way bus lanes for better traffic management facilities and improve some major intersections by constructing 25.68 km of air links.

As civil society stakeholders such as the Zambia Road Safety Trust have noted, pedestrians and cyclists must plan in the core components of the plan to create an integrated transport network.

A major benefit from this project is job creation, along with capacity building of local contractors, with 20 percent of the contracts awarded to Zambian companies.

New projects and events point to a shift in priorities – to safe and affordable means of transport, especially for vulnerable road users.

The recently launched Zambia Strategy for Non-Motorized Transport includes a comprehensive action plan to ensure that “Zambian cities and towns will provide safe, efficient and accessible walking and cycling networks to improve mobility for all residents, promote access to opportunities and promote equitable allocation of street space. “

It includes a range of activities, including the development of 40 km of complete pedestrian facilities and 20 km of cycle paths per year in ten major cities and towns.

The Zambia Pedestrian First Project (also known as The Zambia 10km Project) and the “Investing in Walking and Cycling in African Cities” project, initiated by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)’s Share the Road initiative, support the implementation of the strategy.

The projects aim to ensure safe walking and cycling infrastructure developed with the emphasis on leaving no one behind – including wheelchair users and other people with disabilities. This is because systematic, genuine and realistic investments in people walking and cycling will have a holistic return on development that goes beyond the immediate benefits of improved transportation systems and mobility.

New projects and events point to a shift in priorities – to safe and affordable means of transport, especially for vulnerable road users.

The recently launched Zambia Strategy for Non-Motorized Transport includes a comprehensive action plan to ensure that “Zambian cities and towns will provide safe, efficient and accessible walking and cycling networks to improve mobility for all residents, promote access to opportunities and promote equitable allocation of street space. “

It includes a range of activities, including the development of 40 km of complete pedestrian facilities and 20 km of cycle paths per year in ten major cities and towns.

The Zambia Pedestrian First Project (also known as The Zambia 10km Project) and the “Investing in Walking and Cycling in African Cities” project initiated by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)’s Share the Road initiative support the implementation of the strategy.

The projects aim to ensure safe walking and cycling infrastructure developed with the emphasis on leaving no one behind – including wheelchair users and other people with disabilities. This is because systematic, genuine and realistic investments in people walking and cycling will have a holistic return on development that goes beyond the immediate benefits of improved transportation systems and mobility.

These projects aim to ensure that pedestrians and people with disabilities can navigate safely through their city and that their increased accessibility will also be a catalyst to transform Lusaka into a more livable and resilient city.

Safe walking and cycling infrastructure integrated into development projects will not only reduce the high personal and economic cost of transportation for disadvantaged communities, but also improve human health and positively impact economic productivity.

It is not just about adding a sidewalk to a street, but about providing the services needed for people to achieve their jobs, learning and empowerment.

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