In Nairobi, 60% of residents make their daily trips on foot, 35% by matatus and 5% by private cars (Ministry of Roads – Republic of Kenya, 2010). In other words, at least two thirds of Nairobians live within a walkable and cyclable distance of work and school. This means that the city has a great cycling and walking potential, which if tapped into, can revolutionise mobility. In the same context however, there remains a disproportionate investment to ‘invite’ people to walk and bike. Most roads in the city lack or have inadequate Non Motorised Transport (NMT) infrastructure, and where they exist, the majority of them have potholes and obstructions; lack protection from the sun; heavy motorised traffic, and the all-important continuity to link destinations. As such, walking and cycling remain mandatory acts, carried out of necessity. Particularly in the city centre where the streets are: a congested space;a polluted space; a contested space between pedestrians, vendors, hawkers, matatus, trolley pushers and motorbike riders; and an unsafe space where one has to dodge matatus, motorbikes and muggers.
Location: Luthuli Avenue (see map)
The Street is part of a larger pedestrian desire-line that runs from River road and connects to Ambassadour then to City Hall way, which links downtown to upper hill and community. It is in close proximity of multiple matatu stops and boasts of a retail character. Conversely, it suffers from challenges including congestion, limited pedestrian space and pollution among others.
Watch this video featuring one of the shopkeepers on the avenue explaining some of the challenges he faces.
The project seeks to transform Luthuli Avenue into a pedestrian-oriented street, encouraging lingering and stay and connecting popular destinations while optimizing revenue for the city county. The project approach therefore is action research. It will adopt a mix of creative methods including observations, behavioral mapping, illustration, and photography (incl. time-lapse photography) to understand the challenges faced by NMT users. It will also seek use tactical urbanism and visual stimuli to spark conversations and engage the public. In addition, the team will use social media to engage the public.