Thursday, July 18, 2024

Exploring non-motorized travel as an emerging trend in sustainability

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The landscape of transportation has undergone a significant transformation with a heightened focus on sustainability in recent years. Emerging trends are reshaping the way we move, emphasizing eco-friendly alternatives and innovative solutions to curb carbon emissions. Cities in western countries, including Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Seville, have consistently ranked among the top 20 most bike-friendly cities globally. The Netherlands for instance is often recognized as one of the most bike-friendly countries worldwide. Promoting bicycles as a mode of transportation is a strategy aimed at alleviating congestion caused by the high volume of cars in urban areas. 

In Africa, Kenya has newly developed roads have incorporated dedicated spaces for riding bicycles, although widespread adoption of this form of transportation is yet to be achieved. These designated sections are often utilized by motorbikes and pedestrians, with bicycles not being as commonly used.  

Several other African nations, including Uganda, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, have embraced the concept of monthly car-free days, a government-led initiative aimed at promoting non-motorized transportation and combatting air pollution. These designated days also serve as an opportunity to foster a culture of healthy living, encouraging collective exercises such as soccer, roller skating, street music, and dancing, among other activities. In cities like Kampala and Jinja, Uganda, designated areas undergo a transformation during car-free days. While numerous sections of the city typically accommodate cars, on these specific days each month, several major arteries are temporarily closed to motorized vehicles. As a result, traffic on car-free days is notably reduced compared to regular days, contributing to a temporary alleviation of congestion caused by motorized transport. 

Bicycles offer a sustainable mode of travel as they produce no harmful gas emissions. Additionally, they contribute to maintaining good health, serving as an effective means of exercising the body. Bicycles need to reclaim their status as a sustainable and healthy mode of transportation. Cities worldwide are implementing bike-sharing programs and investing in cycling infrastructure to encourage commuters to pedal their way to work. Beyond reducing carbon emissions, cycling promotes physical fitness and contributes to a cleaner urban environment. 

In Rwanda, the car-free day initiative commenced as a monthly event in 2016 under the City of Kigali’s auspices. However, a year later, following President Paul Kagame’s attendance in 2017, the frequency was increased to bi-monthly. Twice a month, individuals of all ages and backgrounds, donned in sports attire, actively participate in jogging, cycling, walking, and various exercises within designated areas in Kigali. During this event, motorized vehicles are prohibited from moving for at least four hours. 

Even if these programs only last a few hours, they nonetheless have a positive impact compared to not implementing them. They are one method of lowering emissions and congestion. Through several advances, public transportation networks are changing to embrace sustainability. The increasing popularity of electric vehicles in Kenya, such as cars and motorcycles, is a sign that the country is making progress in reducing its impact on climate change and global warming.  

The efficiency of public transportation has grown due to the introduction of electric buses, motorbikes, high-speed rail networks, and data analytics for transit route optimization. The goal of these programs is to reduce overall emissions by encouraging more commuters to choose public transportation alternatives over private automobiles. Carbon emissions are being reduced significantly due to widespread use of sustainable transportation options. Public transportation advancements result in more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient ways to commute, and electric vehicles, such as buses and bicycles, emit no tailpipe emissions. This has led to a favorable movement towards a cleaner future for the transportation sector, which has historically been a major contributor to air pollution. 

To encourage the broad use of sustainable transportation, infrastructure development, public awareness campaigns, and legislative frameworks must coincide. To ensure these programs’ success, it will also be imperative to address concerns about safety, accessibility, and urban planning. A shared commitment to constructing a future with more environmental consciousness is symbolized by the current trends in sustainable transportation. A transportation revolution that puts the health of our planet first is gathering momentum as cities adjust and people choose eco-friendly commute options. 

The ideal way to cascade ideas is to start at the global level, come down to Africa then specific countries. 

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