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IDS held an online seminar on 22nd February 2024 from 2.00pm – 3.30pm EAT titled ‘Sustainable Mobility in Nairobi: Perceptions, Preferences and Infrastructure Deficit in Nairobi’s Cycling Landscape’

Prof. Winnie Mitullah welcomed the participants to the seminar and afterwards, Dr. Gladys Nyachieo, the moderator, introduced the main speaker, Dr. Anne Kamau, and welcomed her to make her presentation.

Dr. Anne’s Presentation on Sustainable Mobility in Nairobi


The results shared by Dr. Anne are part of ongoing work for the ‘Collaboration for Active Mobility in Africa (CAMA)’ project. The CAMA project involves 3 African universities including University of Nairobi (Kenya), Makerere University (Uganda), and Mekelle University (Ethiopia), and 2 German universities including Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and University of Kassel.

The CAMA project runs for a period of 5 years and is funded by DAAD and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany.

Dr. Anne clarified that her presentation would only focus on cycling in Nairobi.

Project Goals

  • The overall goal of CAMA is to promote walking and cycling within sub-Saharan Africa. The aim is to better understand the walking and cycling needs in the African context and foster the exchange of knowledge between the local communities in Africa and Germany.
  • Several activities have been undertaken through the project that involve data collection, development and uptake of tailor-made solutions and real-life experiences through living labs.

Project Assumptions on Cycling

  1. Perceptions to cycle are influenced by the state of infrastructure and vice versa i.e., when cycling infrastructure is available, people are more likely to cycle than when it is not available.
  2. Socio-demographic factors influence cycling such as household size, disability status, gender, income levels, and education.

Data Collection

  • It is a multi-approach study that involves 2 data collection techniques including:
  • A survey on walking and cycling; and
  • Digital crowd mapping.
  • Data in Nairobi was collected through the surveys and digital crowd mapping tool in 3 corridors namely:
  • University Way which was selected due to the high population of youths using the road.
  • Muindi Mbingu Street which is a business hub; and
  • Jogoo Road which was picked because it is a busy street for everyone (residential areas, businesses, informal traders).
  • Sampling: Data was collected from 463 participants out of the targeted 450. 50% of the data collected was from Jogoo Road, 29% from Muindi Mbingu Street, and 20% from University Way.
  • To select the participants, the field researchers used a distance of 500 meters between each person. The study population included persons with disabilities, pedestrians, cyclists, business owners, and premises.
  • SurveyToGo was the tool used to capture and store data.



The main mode of travel in Kenya is walking: 84% of the respondents indicated that they mainly walked. About 29% of the respondents indicated that they cycled and out of this, 19% did daily cycling while the other 10% did weekly, monthly or yearly cycling.

Considerations that people make when they decide whether to cycle or not include:

  • Cost: cycling is a low-cost mode of travel.
  • Accessibility: it is easy to access (issues of ownership).
  • Efficiency and reliability
  • Comfort

Factors influencing the Choice of Cycling Routes

  1. Congestion: cyclists are more likely to choose routes that are less congested.
  2. Safety
  3. Good cycling infrastructure
  4. Direct cycling routes: broken cycling routes tend to deter people from cycling.

What would make cyclists not go for particular routes

  1. Safety: routes that are considered to be dangerous.
  2. Distance to be covered is too far: people would opt for other modes of transport. (E-bikes?)
  3. Weather: too hot, dusty, or rainy.
  4. Inconvenience due to luggage or having children.
  5. Lack of parking spots.

Socio-Demographic Factors

  1. Gender: More men cycle (how do we bridge the gender gap? Many women do not know how to cycle etc. There are initiatives that are training women how to cycle such as Dada Ride and Critical Mass Nairobi)
  2. Age: Younger people cycle more than the older persons. This could be attributed to the fact that many older persons are not found within the cities or that they do not feel safe cycling.
  3. Household Size: Larger households cycle less compared to smaller households. This could be attributed to issues of ownership or the households selecting other modes because they are more convenient for them.
  4. Education: People who have higher education cycle less. How could we ensure that the more educated people get, the more they cycle? Education should be an enabler and not a barrier to cycling.
  5. Type of employment: Persons in the informal economy tend to cycle more than persons in the formal economy. There is need to think about bicycles for work.
  6. Disability status: People with physical disability cycled more than other people; this could be those using tricycles. Are the roads safe for PWDs?


Mary Mwangi’s Presentation on the Digital Crowd Mapping Tool


We got both path and point feedback from road users to try and identify the available infrastructure and facilities that existed along the road corridors as well as to understand the road users’ challenges and experiences that influenced their cycling.

We developed a web-based application and engaged some research assistants to collect data along these corridors. To map the road more effectively, we subdivided the corridors into sections.


Cycling is still underutilized in the Kenyan context. From our findings, only 7% of the respondents cycled on both University Way and Muindi Mbingu, while on Jogoo Road, only 16% of the participants cycled.

Facilities and Infrastructure Identified by the Respondents

  1. Dedicated lanes: 74% - Muindi Mbingu, 16% - University Way, 81% - Jogoo Road
  2. Functional street lighting: majority of the respondents on Jogoo Road
  3. Greenery: Muindi Mbingu was mentioned as one of the roads with a good stretch of greenery

Facilities and Infrastructure not Identified on Majority of the Road Corridors

  1. Public toilets: Only identified on Muindi Mbingu but none on the other 2 road corridors.
  2. Baby changing facilities
  3. Bike park racks: Identified on Jogoo Road only.

Challenges that cyclists experience along the road corridors

University Way

  • Obstruction
  • Missing cycling lanes
  • Lack of street lighting
  • Security concerns
  • Encroachment of cycling lanes by boda-bodas
  • High speed of motor vehicles

Muindi Mbingu Street

  • Proper marking of dedicated lanes to distinguish between the walking and cycling lanes.
  • Inaccessibility to the dedicated lanes due to their location in the middle of the road.
  • Incompleteness of the cycling lanes: they are not continuous.
  • Encroachment of the dedicated lanes by boda-bodas.

However, majority of the respondents felt that there were no challenges on Muindi Mbingu Street. This could be attributed to the improvements that have been undertaken on the street.

Jogoo Road

  • Encroachment of the cycling lanes by vendors, boda-bodas, Tuk-tuks, and handcarts.
  • Poor drainage.
  • Mixed collision between cyclists and pedestrians due to lack of proper marking.
  • Smelly open manholes.

Proposals on how to address the infrastructural deficits that exist

  • Infrastructure improvement on the 3 corridors.
  • Need for functional streetlighting.
  • Street benches.
  • Dedicated cycling lanes
  • Bike parks or racks
  • Dust bins along the corridors
  • Continuous cycling lanes
  • Widening of the available cycling lanes
  • Traffic control and enforcement


It is good to acknowledge the efforts that have been made in terms of improving active mobility infrastructure and road user safety in Nairobi. However, road users still felt that there was a need for more to be done in terms of infrastructure provision.

Discussant – Dr. Alphonse Nkurunziza, University of Rwanda

Dr. Nkurunziza commended the CAMA team for the good job done on the research so far.

Dr. Nkurunziza’s comments on the research are as follows:

  • Is there an NMT policy in Kenya that guides the research and practice on cycling?
  • What are the other activities carried out around the 3 corridors that were chosen for the study (i.e. mixed residential and commercial land use)? This will explain further why the research team chose the specific corridors and the type of population that was available for interviewing.
  • It would have been useful to get information on the origin and destination of the respondents in order to understand where they were coming from and where they were going.
  • Dr. Anne mentioned that only 19% of the respondents claimed to be cycling on a daily basis. It would be important to understand why the number is that low. Did the research only focus on cyclists or did they also interview individuals who were not cycling in order to understand why they were not cycling?
  • Why are ‘lack of continuous cycling lanes’ and ‘lack of safety’ not ranked highly as some of the major issues that deter individuals from cycling?

Dr. Anne’s and Mary’s Responses to Dr. Nkurunziza

  • The City of Nairobi has an NMT policy. Therefore, this research is relevant to this policy.
  • 2 of the corridors under the study were in the Central Business District (Muindi Mbingu Street is a business hub and University Way is used by a large proportion of youth attending the university) while 1 was in a mixed residential-commercial area (Jogoo Road has a mixture of businesses, residential homes, schools, and hospitals).
  • We did not focus on motorized transport users for the study but instead focused more on pedestrians and cyclists.
  • The study captured the destinations of the respondents; however, we did not interview them on where they were coming from.
  • Information about the reasons why individuals do not cycle was captured in the research and the main reasons were that cycling is dangerous and the lack of dedicated cycling lanes.
  • Majority of the data was qualitative with only a few questions requiring quantitative responses.


Question & Answer Session

  1. Was the behavioral aspect of cycling covered in the research such as the attitudes of individuals on cycling and cultural issues?

Response: Some behavioral aspects are covered in the research paper including the reasons why women do not cycle, among others. Further, behavioral issues of cycling can be tackled by providing adequate physical infrastructure. This means that when cycling becomes more comfortable and safer, then more people will cycle including women.

  1. The researchers ought to subject their findings to further rigorous analyses such as regression analysis to make it possible for one to predict whether one is more likely to either walk or cycle.

Response: This is work-in-progress but the research team will endeavor to do more inferential statistical analysis to strengthen the research further.

  1. What is the cost of putting up ineffective cycling infrastructure? e.g., on Outering Road where cyclists still cycle on the road.

Response: These are all issues of governance and policy that need to be addressed. Transport economists also need to be engaged in mobility and access research in order to address the issue of cost. Lastly, could it be that cycling infrastructure is ineffective due to lack of maintenance?

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