High Volume Transport

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Senator Crystal Asige advocates for safer, walkable streets at Africa’s first Walk21 Conference

In her keynote speech at the 23rd International Walk21 Conference in Kigali this month, Crystal Asige, Senator in the Kenyan parliament and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) spoke about HVT’s Road Note 21 as a basis for enhancing the mobility of PWDs in low and middle-income countries.

Hosted by the university of Rwanda in partnership with the City of Kigali, UNEP and the Walk21 Foundation, the conference on walking and liveable communities was held in Africa for the first time, where up to 78% of people in cities walk every day to access work, education, health care, markets and public transport.

One of a host of transport experts from across Africa and around the world, Crystal was speaking at a session entitled ‘Building the streets and neighbourhoods we need’ which brought together researchers, government officials, urban planners and community advocates to examine common challenges to walkability. These included inadequate pedestrian infrastructure, absence of public spaces and a lack of accessibility for people with disabilities and the elderly. Speakers shared details of successful transformative projects which addressed these challenges and improved walkability in vulnerable communities while positively impacting public health.

Image credit: Moses Ng’ang’a and Walk21

Crystal shared her own insights and expertise on how to develop good practices to enable walkable communities and safer streets in Kenya. Drawing on Road Note 21, which promotes awareness of disability and offers practical strategies for planning and implementing accessible infrastructure and services, she described the guide, which she had co-authored, as:

“A good resource that may help you make these good practices a reality in your cities.”

Part one guides on what stakeholders can do through policy and advocacy,” she said. “While part two guides on what practitioners can do through easy and practical universal design principles.”

Crystal said she was pleased to return to Kigali, the city which she credits with inspiring her motion, currently being debated in Kenya’s parliament, for the government to establish car free zones and days across the country.