Designing safer pathways for the most vulnerable road users

Urban design responds to road-related deaths: Africa’s leading cause of youth mortality

Urban Movement in Uganda - Project Update

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    Urban Movement in Uganda

    A pilot non-motorized transport (NMT) corridor spanning 1.9km along Luwum Street and Namirembe Road, Kampala was constructed and completed in mid-2020.

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    Urban Movement in Uganda

    A pilot non-motorized transport (NMT) corridor spanning 1.9km along Luwum Street and Namirembe Road, Kampala was constructed and completed in mid-2020.

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    Urban Movement in Uganda

    Map of non-motorized transport (NMT) pilot phase in central Kampala.

Road safety, particularly for vulnerable pedestrians, cyclists and children has emerged as a key health priority in sub-Saharan Africa. Road injury and mortality rates have remained among the highest in the world – in stark contrast to improvements made in reducing the impact of other causes of death such as tuberculosis, malaria, and diarrheal diseases across the region [1].

Last updated: July 10, 2023

Civil engineers Joseph Kigozi, Jacinta Nakanwagi, and Ronald Kibuuka from Prome Consultants, Uganda are passionate about improving the safety and sustainability of the road infrastructure network in Africa’s cities. The trio won a Holcim Awards Acknowledgement prize in 2020 for their submission, Urban Movement in Uganda, that blends road engineering and landscape design to improve current transport infrastructure and overall livability in Kampala.

Since receiving this accolade, a pilot non-motorized transport (NMT) corridor spanning 1.9km along Luwum Street and Namirembe Road was constructed and completed in mid-2020. The pilot project is operational on a busy urban thoroughfare in Kampala and demonstrates the potential of their approach. The team are eager to use the pilot project to collect statistical evidence of the efficacy of the approach, and continue to advocate and lobby the city authority to invest in the collection of data to support developing and expanding the NMT network.

Urban Movement in Uganda

A pilot non-motorized transport (NMT) corridor spanning 1.9km along Luwum Street and Namirembe Road, Kampala was constructed and completed in mid-2020.

Upgrading urban infrastructure and overall livability

The project was praised by the Holcim Awards jury for presenting a multi-modal transport scheme for Kampala that blends road engineering and landscape design to improve current transport infrastructure and overall livability within the city. The NMT network is most heavily used by the city’s most economically disadvantaged residents. Improving safety and reducing travel times is a mechanism for increasing urban productivity and thus reducing poverty [2]. The Urban Movement plan for Kampala envisions an upgraded multi-modal transportation network designed for safe, efficient, and cleaner mobility in Kampala. Their concept incorporates elements of traffic engineering, landscaping, and urban design to significantly improve the quality of life in the city.

At the continental level, the team is still confronted with some challenging statistics regarding the incident rates of road traffic accidents. Over 320,000 people died on Africa’s roads in 2018 [3] – and statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) show the trend is worsening. Road traffic fatality estimates increased from 24.1 per 100,000 population in 2010 to 26.6 per 100,000 population in 2016 [4]. Around one quarter of all traffic-related deaths worldwide occur in Africa despite the continent having barely 2% of the world’s vehicle fleet [5] - illustrating the consequences of poor, non-inclusive road infrastructure.

Urban Movement in Uganda

Map of non-motorized transport (NMT) pilot phase in central Kampala.

Improving safety and life quality

The urban rejuvenation project designs for the pragmatic separation of pedestrian and cycling environments by creating pedestrian walkways and cycle paths with special considerations for people with disabilities. Africa has the highest proportion of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities at 44% of the total number of road deaths [6]. Kampala is home to over 1.8 million people yet less than 20% of its road network is sealed and roads are poorly maintained, leading to dangerous conditions, especially after heavy rain [7].

To provide better protection for the vulnerable who travel on foot and bicycle, the comprehensive urban plan proposed in the Holcim Awards submission incorporates solar powered street lighting and landscaping elements and aims to eliminate mixing of non-motorized traffic with motorized traffic and dangerous open drainage channels. The plan also ensures continuity of pedestrian pathways and cyclist paths. To further reduce injuries, particularly within the 5-to-29-year age group, the project incorporates inclusive reapportioning of the streetscape, and promotes the use of additional safety interventions such as helmets for cyclists and training of raiders.

A vision for a city-wide NMT network

Plans to create a city-wide network of NMT infrastructure including an eco-bus transit system has been designed by the same team to support accessibility for non-vehicular travel within the city. Expansion of the network is currently constrained by the shortage of finance to invest in the infrastructure and lack of adequate space to fit the standard infrastructure in some areas of the city.

The project team continues to promote sustainable transport principles and leadership in Africa through social media channels, training workshops, and presentations at conferences.


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