Nairobi, Kenya, is the unofficial capital of the Africa region and is often called the “Green City in the Sun”, referencing the protected game reserve, Nairobi National Park and its proximity to the rivers and African Great Lakes region. Nairobi’s potential as a world city is limited by major traffic congestion, air pollution, limited public transport option and unsafe roads for pedestrians and cyclists. Fortunately, the city has been making significant progress in the last several years, establishing clear transport policies and planning for an extensive BRT system, among other projects.
Until recently, Nairobi lacked a strong strategy for addressing the city’s public transport needs, including the integration of non-motorised transport. However, in the past several years, the city has made significant progress in establishing clear transport policies and developing forward-thinking projects related to Nairobi’s problems of traffic delays, air pollution and limited space for pedestrians.
In 2012, Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) had plans to incorporate BRT into a project to upgrade a major road from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, past the city center and northwards toward Uthiru.ITDP developed a service plan to define the routes, stations and frequencies of the BRT services to run on the corridor, now known as “Line 1.” ITDP also brought in world-class BRT engineers to provide guidance on the design of BRT infrastructure. Finally, noting a critical gap in the Nairobi BRT plans, ITDP worked with the government to route the BRT infrastructure directly into Nairobi city center. Gold-standard BRT infrastructure in the city center was expected to bring huge benefits to BRT passengers and catalyse the revitalisation of downtown Nairobi.
More recently, ITDP has worked with the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NAMATA) to update the BRT Design Framework to create a common set of guidelines for BRT projects in the city and ensure an integrated approach to the planning of new corridors. The Design Framework calls for robust corridor, station and intersection designs, paired with good walking and cycling access. To ensure that high-quality non-motorised transport facilities extend throughout the city, ITDP is working with the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development, and Public Works (MOTIHUD) to develop design standards for urban streets in Kenya.
To improve the walking and cycling environment in urban areas in Kenya, ITDP, supported by the International Climate Initiative and in collaboration with the World Bank, are developing a Street Design Manual for Urban Areas in Kenya. The manual has urban road design guidelines which include physically separated NMT guidelines, at-grade pedestrian crossings and dedicated lanes for public transport.
ITDP is also recommending changes to the Nairobi Master Plan towards a more transit- and pedestrian-friendly city. Paired with a gold-standard BRT through downtown Nairobi, compact transit-oriented development with requisite parking reform may finally begin to change the urban form in Nairobi, putting eyes on the street and breathing new life into a highly congested city.
Image of Nairobi by Nina R
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