WALKING CITY PILOT

Kisumu launches car–free day for cleaner, better city

Wanga said they have redesigned streets and created more walkways to promote a walking city CBD.

In Summary

• Three major streets —Oginga Odinga, Kenyatta Avenue and Ang’awa which forms the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Triangle — were closed for motorists on Saturday.

City manager Abala Wanga said no motor vehicles and motorcycles were allowed access into the CBD as they focused on implementing the non-motorised transports (NMT) system. This is a pilot project.

Kisumu city manager Aballa Wanga rides a big on car0free Saturday, December 11, in Kisumu.
NO-CARS: Kisumu city manager Aballa Wanga rides a big on car0free Saturday, December 11, in Kisumu.
Image: MAURICE ALAL

@alalmaurice

Saturday was  car-free day in Kisumu's Central Business District.

Three major streets — Oginga Odinga, Kenyatta Avenue and Ang’awa, which form the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Triangle — were closed for motorists on Saturday.

It was the second car-free Saturday — the first was early this year— the car-free-days were trial runs, part of a pilot programme.

If all goes well, and problems are ironed out, the idea is to expand it to one Sunday a month.

The future plans are under discussion about days and areas covered  but no decision has been made.

There was definitely some confusion but bicyclers and walkers were happy.

Only pedestrians and bicyclists were allowed to use the streets.

UN Habitat says car-free days are an opportunity to promote healthy living through collective exercises such as soccer, roller skating, street music and dancing, among others.

City manager Abala Wanga said no motor vehicles or motorcycles were allowed into the CBD as Kisumu aims to implement non-motorised transport. That means bicycling, walking and skating.

Wanga major streets in the city centre have been redesigned an parking areas have been removed from the main streets.

More walkways have been created too promote a walking city in the CBD..

The city manager said they are educating the public on different uses of the streets. He said residents were aware of the plans and motorists had been advised on alternative routes to access the CBD and other areas.

The car-free day project is being implemented in partnership with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

UN-Habitat has been pushing countries globally to reduce motorised traffic and build more walking and cycling lanes.

“The launch marks a great milestone in the city management’s bid to decongest the CBD and reduce certain types of air and noise pollution as we celebrate Car Free Day," Wanga said.

The second car-free day shows how the administration is committed to safer streets for pedestrians, he said.

“Together with partners, Kisumu is undertaking complementary projects to implement in the near future,” he said.

Wanga praised ITDP, UN-Habitat, Kisumu Bike Club, Buffalo Bicycles and other stakeholders for the success of the initiative.

“We also thank residents of Kisumu for the support they have displayed so far and police for their assistance in traffic control," he said.

Wanga said the ongoing Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) Project falls within the larger City of Kisumu vision for Sustainable Urban Mobility and a live able city.

Cyclists along the Oginga Odinga Street during the car-free day in Kisumu city on Saturday, December 11.
PEDAL POWER: Cyclists along the Oginga Odinga Street during the car-free day in Kisumu city on Saturday, December 11.
Image: MAURICE ALAL

It aims to promote the well-being of residents through enhanced mobility facilities for the vulnerable road users.

Wanga walkways on all  project road corridors stretch  16.4km for safe movement of pedestrians.

“This will enhanced by tree planting for shed and benches for resting and relaxation, general landscaping for walkway ambience and solar street lighting to encourage use of the facilities into the evening,” he said.

The project will provide Pedal Cycle Tracks along Achieng Oneko Road (one side), Awour Otieno Road (one side), Amolo Agwar Road (one side), Mosque Road (both sides), Nyerere Road (both sides), Ondiek Highway (one side) and Ang’awa Road (one side).

It will also ensure raised pedestrian crossings at road intersections and links for safe and universal access.

Wanga said the city is partnering with Toyota Kenya in an enhanced urban aesthetics programme. They are adjusting roads in the CBD Triangle such as Oginga Odinga Street, Ang’awa Avenue and Jomo Kenyatta Avenue for safe and well organised traffic movement.

The project includes installation of traffic separation barriers, raised kerbs, raised pedestrian crossings, street lighting and beautification.

The City has temporarily installed barriers at the pedestrian crossings on the ‘Triangle’ to deal with motorcycles and tuktuks, notably operators using the crossings for turns, thus endangering pedestrians.

When complete, Wanga said the streets will be accessible to People with Disabilities,

The project is in its initial stages.

Additionally, he said, they will re-organise street parking on the ‘Triangle’. The city management is considering eliminating street parking along the Jomo Kenyatta Avenue from the KCB roundabout to the Tumaini/Khetias Supermarkets.

Through the NMT project, the city has provided adequate alternative parking spaces outside of the 'Triangle', such as the newly constructed parking space along  Amolo Agar Road.

Wanga said theKenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) is currently constructing walkways along the Kakamega Road (Kisumu Boys Roundabout to Kondele) on both sides.

When completed, the projects will further extend the NMT infrastructure.

The Kenya Urban Roads Authority will soon roll out construction of five kilometres of pedestrian walkways along certain city roads as a demonstration project for the Kisumu City Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan.

Wider coverage is planned

The city is working on more car-free days, more pedestrian walkways, larger car-free areas and events to increase awareness of the new policy and its benefits, Wanga said.

Every year on September 22, nations celebrate World Car Free Day. 

Countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda have also adopted monthly free-car days. UN Habitat says car-free days are also an opportunity to promote healthy living through collective exercises such as soccer, roller skating, street music and dancing, among others.

(Edited by V. Graham)