‘Share the Road’ call by FIA Foundation and UNEP 

The launch of Share the Road - Nairobi, November 29th 2010

Government representatives, donors and other stakeholders from six East African nations gathered at the Headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the global launch of the UNEP Publication “Share the Road: Investment in Walking and Cycling Road Infrastructure” in Nairobi on November 29th.

Around the world, investment patterns in urban road infrastructure continue to be biased towards the motor vehicle.  Despite the high costs, the improvement of the road network is narrowly focused on increasing the road space for cars.  In regions like Africa, where only a fraction of the population own or have access to a car, development of road infrastructure still ignores the needs of the majority of the people who would greatly benefit from improvements in non-motorised transport (NMT) such as walking and cycling facilities, linked with public transport.

FIA Foundation and UNEP have launched the ‘Share the Road’ initiative to redress the current situation, especially in Africa where the rates of urbanization and motorization urgently call for sustainable long-term infrastructure development.  

Share the Road advocates for more balanced investments in road infrastructure so that an integrated multi-modal urban transport system can be built instead of a highly costly car-centric system.  Decision-makers in government and donor agencies can develop policies to systematically allocate funds to walking and cycling road infrastructure.  Such investments will enable countries to have a sustainable transport system that is central to a Green Economy.

Investing in road infrastructure for walking and cycling leads to massive benefits in environment, safety and accessibility.  It reduces emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHGs), protects all road users by ensuring the incorporation of road infrastructure facilities which safeguard vulnerable road users, and increases affordable access to vital services and other transport modes.

Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog over the costly mistakes of other regions where car-centric cities have reached gridlock.  If investment decisions are made to develop multi-modal, resource-efficient transport systems, countries can improve their road infrastructure, which is critical to economic development, while also improving the everyday lives of citizens in their daily commute and urban environment.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The concept of ‘Share the Road’ is to try and influence those who design, plan, finance roads, to think more broadly.  It is ironic that in the current paradigm of road construction in many countries of the world, roads are still constructed where they in fact displace even the last remaining public pathways or possibilities to use a bicycle.” 

Sheila Watson, Director of Environment, FIA Foundation said ‘Share the Road is a very important campaign to us at FIA Foundation because it highlights road infrastructure as a key issue in terms of environmental protection, road safety and sustainability for some of the poorest communities in the world. We will continue to support the work as it develops partnerships with governments, donor agencies and other key stakeholders to increase the amount of financing towards walking and road infrastructure in cities’

At the Share the Road Event, nearly 70 participants gathered, including government representatives from 6 East African nations were present: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.  Also, donor representatives from Kenya and/or East Africa attended, such as the African Development Bank, European Union and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.  More than 10 civil society groups were represented, from environmental NGOs, bicycle promotion groups to researchers and students from the University of Nairobi. 

Download the UNEP Publication "Share the Road: Investment in Walking and Cycling Road Infrastructure" (4.5mb PDF) >

See the UNEP Share the Road Website >

Click here to watch a short Share the Road film >