The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is helping communities across Africa make their streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, which advocates say is crucial on a continent with the world’s deadliest roads.
In October, UNEP trained representatives from 24 non-profit organizations in 15 African countries on how to campaign for wider pedestrian footpaths, protective bike lanes and other infrastructure that protects vulnerable road users. The training was part of UNEP’s Share the Road Programme and was done in partnership with the Global Alliance of Non-Governmental Organizations for Road Safety.
“Protecting pedestrians and cyclists is an important part of our citywide strategy.”
Martin Eshiwani, director of roads and transport, Nairobi Metropolitan Services
“It is critical that road safety campaigners, along with city planners and national governments, work more closely together to achieve common goals in ensuring safer streets. This training has helped to build bridges between different agendas and equipped NGOs to influence their local and national agendas in ways that will help cities and rural communities across Africa to be safer, cleaner, and healthier,” said Rob de Jong, Head of Sustainable Mobility Unit at UNEP.
Sub-Saharan Africa reportedly has the highest per capita rate of road fatalities than any region in the world. Preventable road deaths are projected to more than double to 514,000 by 2030. Much of that is linked to the neglect of pedestrian safety. Most countries in Africa still lack policies for protecting vulnerable road users and do not prioritize investment in infrastructure that separates pedestrians and cyclists from high speed traffic.
In a bid to avoid crowded buses and trains, there is a growing awareness of walking and cycling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research done by Share the Road.
Many African cities have made road safety a key plank of their development plans.