Heed First Lady’s call to make roads safer
The call by First Lady Rachel Ruto for government and construction companies to factor in bicycle and motorcycle lanes while planning and building urban roads is timely and ought to be taken up as a priority.
Data from the National Police Service shows that about 200 motorcycle riders died in Nairobi in the last five months as a result of road crashes. That translates to about 40 riders a month and at least one rider daily. This number is too high and calls for urgent interventions, including requiring that road designs incorporate needs of other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Urban planning should make travel safe, reliable and efficient for all types of road users, hence the need to heed the call to make Nairobi and other Kenyan towns safer for non-motoring road users.
Any death arising from road crashes is one too many and contributes to economic decline given that many road users are either breadwinners or potential breadwinners. That is why road designs that improve safety of all users should be prioritised particularly in urban areas given that they have high population density per square kilometre. It does not make sense for the government to spend money on the education of young people and training of workers only for them to die from preventable causes such as road crashes.
Coupled with improved road design, there is also need for counties to seriously consider introducing car-free days in key towns as one way of decongesting urban areas, increasing road safety and improving the quality of life of citizens. Car-free days provide opportunities for workers and leisure seekers to use alternative means of transport, such as cycling or riding, which are also more environmentally friendly compared to vehicles.
Globally, cities are in a race to become more sustainable, green and liveable by offering a high quality of life for their residents, including providing for alternative means of safe intra-city travel such as cycling. This is the direction Kenya should be heading too especially given that modes like cycling are affordable and also good for health.
The First Lady has thrown the challenge to authorities to take the right steps to make Nairobi — and by extension other urban areas — safer for all road users.