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  • Reply to: What El Niño has taught us about infrastructure resilience   2 weeks 1 day ago

    A very informative and well written blog!

  • Reply to: Motorization and its discontents   2 months 1 week ago

    Interesting angle and needed support, but...

    Roger Gorham makes a great case on the need to help countries have better vehicle fleets: less polluting and roadworthy. That would mitigate some of the issues of motorization: increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improved safety. He also indicates the importance of motor vehicles for access to livelihoods and opportunities and as a status symbol.
    But the indication that motorization is inevatible and even desirable as part of economic growth, may be strongly misleading. The issue in city sustainability is not ownership, but excessive use. Even clean, safe vehicles cause gridlock and are involved in pedestrian traffic deaths. Motorcycles have been positive for economics, but also one of the reasons road traffic deaths are on the rise in many countries.
    I feel the statement in this blog entry, and eventually in the World Bank Transport Policy described here, may need caution. Probably stressing the fourth element "Ensuring that the pace of motorization is in line with what the country is ready to abosorb" not just in availability of road and parking space, but in terms of road safety, envoronmental and energy impacts.
    Still, it may be important to mention (probably not in the blog due to lack of space) that safe walking and bicycling and good quality public transport, along with demand management mechanisms and compact urban development, are the key elements of sustinable urban mobility (4 dimensions: access, safety, environment and prosperity).
    Thanks Roger for bringing this important discussion to the table.

  • Reply to: Motorization and its discontents   2 months 1 week ago

    Road safety is important, but what about the impact of vehicles on pedestrians as well as occupants? In Nairobi, 500 of 700 road deaths were pedestrians in 2014. Reducing speeds, improving crossing points, segregated cycle facilities, should be key priorities too.

  • Reply to: Motorization and its discontents   2 months 1 week ago

    Great summary Roger.

    Ironically when second hand vehicles were first imported en masse from Japan and the UK in the early 1990s, into Kenya, it was the first time a simple emissions device - the CATALYTIC CONVERTER was introduced into the country. BRAND NEW CARs that were produced for the country at the time and sold at franchise dealers were low tech, and hence lacked catalytic converters as well as a host of other features like air bags. So, second hand imports from developed countries have had their advantages. We have witnessed the general car fleet in Kenya improve drastically from the claptrap fleet that used to exist pre-1995.

    Today a seven year old truck, for instance, from the UK or Germany, may have a Euro IV or V diesel engine, whereas a new one at the local franchise dealers may be Euro I or II. A brand new truck from India, at the franchise dealers, might not even have a Euro rating. Targeted policies should identify what is acceptable as a new vehicle or a second hand imported vehicle

    Setting second hand vehicle import age limits of 8 years, or even 5 years from Japan, or other advanced economies, will mean that the vehicle is more or less "current", even by developed economy standards. 10 to 15 year old would probably mean worn out vehicle and outdated technology.

    Today we have a whole host of issues brought about by the tenfold increase in the number of vehicles, precipitated by the rush to import second hand vehicles. You have credibly outlined the challenges and measures that could be taken. Vastly improved public transport, NMT infrastructure, road tolls, parking management and improved vehicle technology are some of the next steps we envisage.

    Improvement in bus and paratransit safety and emissions standards, for instance, will bring public transport out of the "dark ages" into the modern age. Measures that will improve specifications for bus body builders and chassis manufacturers would be a good step.

    Thanks and regards,

    Nyaga Kebuchi
    Sustainable Transport Africa

  • Reply to: Motorization and its discontents   2 months 1 week ago

    Interesting approach,
    I would just add the optimisation of roads and streets use through traffic management and parking policies to avoid over investment in road infrastructures... which encourage motorization