Nairobi, Kenya’s capital is on the second in the list of most congested cities in the world. Nairobi has introduced a campaign to reduce congestion on roads, which is car-free Wednesdays and Saturdays that too in the two of the busiest parts of the city.
The goal is to include more buses on the road and avoiding the private cars. Moreover, a light railway and a quick bus transit system will be adopted. However, the aims of the car-free initiative are clear, but there is no specific date set for this implementation. To facilitate the new systems, all the targeted roads are getting upgraded.
The country’s government has released a statement that it would take around six months to make changes on roads.
There is a quick and efficient need to make all these changes. There are around 40.6% of people who can’t afford a private vehicle and prefer commuting through buses or matatus- these are the minibusses which are privately owned. All these people lack public transport infrastructure. There are approximately 39.7% of people who can’t have any means of transport and they prefer walking.
It is been shown by some researches that car-free days will benefit cities in a lot more ways. This initiative will reduce car crashes, lessen noise and air pollution, improvement in car congestion, and also less time wastage.
An increase in social interaction and physical activity will be there after Car-free days. If these changes will be sustained then there will be a proper improvement in the health and well-being of the residents of this city.
Due to this initiative, all the space that is cleared from vehicles that is all the roads and parking lots cleared for this can be further utilized for making greener areas. This can also be used to make public spaces where people can socialize, congregate, and relax. The heat island effect can also be reduced by the green spaces made.
In cases where nearby rural areas are less hotter than built-up areas, there is an effect which produces premature mortality due to heart diseases. Not only this, but air pollution is also a big health concern which is more commonly increasing in developing countries’.
90% of urban areas are affected by the car emissions. There will be a heavy reduction in various types of air pollution due to car-free days that is by 20 to 78%.
There is a heavy need for a reduction in air pollution as pollution exposed by the traffic leads to an increase in problems like childhood asthma and also early deaths. Well, the chances of getting this kind of problems are applicable to those who spend a lot of time around highly trafficked roads, viz. motorists, pedestrians, street vendors, and traffic police.
There is an expectation of a reduction in pollution through the launch of car-free days in Nairobi as it is highly surrounded by traffic all the time. Moreover, it is estimated that the levels of particulate matter are 11.7 times bigger on the curb present in the central business district which is basically at daytime than a rural background site.
Reduction in congestion will automatically reduce noise pollution. Moreover, the high noise levels of Nairobi have crossed the healthy hearing limit, and the majority of traffic comes from the traffic in Nairobi.
The high level of noise produced due to traffic is not only disturbing or annoying but also is the risk of much bad heart conditions and for children also, it reduces cognitive functioning. Around 640,000 Kenyans suffer from various hearing problems.
This launch of car-free days will also increase safety on roads during these days that will make cycling possible on the other hand. Cycling adoption will make the country’s resident healthier and also it is faster than walking and cheaper than motorized transport. It is shown by studies that it will be an added benefit as both walking and cycling will increase the retail sales to around 30%. Also, the improvements and modifications done to the public spaces will encourage football and trading by 40%. Despite all this, it is necessary that policymakers must provide properly designated walking and cycling paths.