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Why Kisumu CBD streets had no vehicles today

By Brian Okoth | Dec 11th 2021 | 2 min read

A Kisumu street free of cars on Saturday, December 11, 2021. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

There were no vehicles on the streets of Kisumu central business district on Saturday, December 11, as the county tested the viability of adopting car-free days.

The trial saw motorists barred from accessing the city centre.

Kisumu City planner, Judy Bala, said motorists had been alerted in advance of the trial, and were asked to seek alternative routes.

An official of the Kisumu County Government, who spoke to The Standard in confidence, said the December 11 seal-off of the CBD was a one-day affair, to allow the county experiment whether it can adopt car-free days, moving forward.

“Based on the findings of today’s trials, the county government would see how best to roll out the car-free day plan,” said the official.

The county government said car-free days would encourage city dwellers to keep the city clean, and embrace other means of transport, including bicycles and skating.

Vacated streets in Kisumu central business district. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The streets that were affected by the trial included Nyerere Road, Ondiek Highway, Gumbi Road, Mosque Road, Achieng’ Oneko Road, Awuor Otieno Road, Omolo Ogar Road, Ang’awa Avenue, and the Oginga Odinga Street.

The United Nations Habitat said it was impressed by Kisumu’s decision to implement a car-free day in the city.

“Kisumu has begun implementing best practice designs that improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in line with the Kisumu Sustainable Mobility Plan,” the UN Habitat said on its official website.

“The free-cars event will also serve as an opportunity for the city to attract investors in sustainable infrastructure development, during the investment conference, which will be held the week after the event.”

The UN agency said car-free days allow residents to embrace the idea of “streets as spaces that provide equitable access for all users”.

“During the [car-free] event on Saturday, streets will be opened for exclusive access by pedestrians and cyclists and activated by vendors, artists and a trade exhibition. Local residents, businesses, and other stakeholders will have the opportunity to take part in the planning and design of streets that will help improve transparency and foster the community’s active use and sense of ownership of public spaces.”

Kisumu County Government says it’s contemplating adopting car-free days in the city centre. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Kisumu has an ambitious sustainable mobility plan to offer safe, accessible, sustainable and equitable transport alternatives.

The plan is sponsored by the County Government of Kisumu, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and the UN-Habitat.

Additional reporting by Harold Odhiambo

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