Walkable Streets Equals Clean Air

Unsplash / Rachel Martin

While most governments around the world are hard at work to get people out of their cars to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality in urban spaces, in African cities, many people already reach their destinations through the healthiest and most environmentally-friendly mode: walking.

Emissions from the transport sector are a major contributor to climate change and have a significant impact on air quality. Globally, polluted air causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year. It also has detrimental impacts on climate, biodiversity and ecosystems, and quality of life in general. Streets are designed for pedestrians to ensure clean air, safety and accessibility.

In Africa, the goal is to encourage people to keep walking.

In Lusaka, Zambia, for example, 65 per cent of the population walks every day while 24 per cent use public transport and only 10 per cent use private vehicles. But, the figures are shifting. Zambia’s Non-Motorized Transport Policy, which was supported by the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Share the Road initiative, notes that traffic congestion is on the rise in Lusaka and other cities.

Rising vehicle traffic in Africa is taking a heavy toll. New infrastructure projects often do not account for pedestrians. The World Bank estimates that sidewalks are missing from around 65 per cent of the road network in Africa. Read more…

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