Better infrastructure and policies can support a billion pedestrians and cyclists
Walk21, together with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), published the first report to present data on walking and cycling from all 54 African countries. The report Walking and Cycling in Africa – Evidence and Good Practice to Inspire Action demonstrates the everyday reality for one billion people in Africa who walk and cycle every day. The report, for the first time, gathers, analyses and presents relevant data from all countries in Africa. It baselines the policy and conditions by applying a walking lens to existing data sources, showing highly diverse contexts.
The report finds that 78% of people in Africa are walking for nearly an hour every day to access work, education, health care and food. And that, the majority of the streets where the walking occurs is unsafe, difficult to access and uncomfortable. Better policies and new investment in infrastructure is however emerging and having a positive impact to citizens throughout the region.
The report emphasizes the need for safety and comfort to be a core priority if we are to ensure healthier and more equitable low carbon cities in Africa. To realise the full benefits of walking and cycling, the report calls for:
- Greater protection of pedestrians and cyclists from private vehicles, including women, children and people with disabilities;
- Investments in adequate infrastructure, including wider footpaths, safer road crossings, lighting, shelter from weather and access to public transportation;
- Better data collection, including engaging communities on policies and street design and measuring public satisfaction and mapping public transportation catchment walkability.
CEO of Walk21 Bronwen Thornton said:
‘Walk21 Foundation is proud to have been part of developing this report and the important ‘call to action’ it contains. The report consolidates available data and good practices to inspire politicians, practitioners and advocates across Africa. We can put walking and cycling at the heart of planning and investment for our streets and neighbourhoods. They are the solution to the multiple challenges we face and usually at lower costs than the alternatives.’
Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN Habitat’s Executive Director said:
“There is a unique opportunity for change in the way we organize and plan our urban areas. Building on the global momentum during COVID-19 when cities expanded walking, cycling and public spaces, I would like to call on decision-makers in Africa to embrace the learnings from this report. “Investments in walking and cycling in Africa are investments in people. There is no other more cost-effective solution to achieve road safety and climate goals simultaneously.”
Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation Deputy Director, added:
“Walking and cycling must be the first consideration for African transport planning. Putting people first by supporting walking and cycling will help create liveable, sustainable and equitable cities where people will be able to live healthily. The FIA Foundation is proud to have supported this report, and to partner with UNEP on the Share the Road project which both make the case for active mobility to become a political priority.”
The report was possible with the support from FIA Foundation, UKAID through the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, HVT Applied Research Programme and the German Environment Ministry’s International Climate Initiative (IKI).