‘Share the Road’ is a UNEP initiative, developed with the Foundation for the Automobile and Society (FIA). It brings together environment and safety agendas in the context of urban transport in the developing world where the majority of people – those moving by foot or bicycle – are disadvantaged on the road. The overall goal is to catalyse policies in government and donor agencies for systematic investments in walking and cycling road infrastructure, linked with public transport systems.
Around the world, investment patterns in road infrastructure continue to favor the car. Despite the high societal costs, increasing the road space for cars continues to be a priority for investors and governments. In regions like Africa, the first region of focus for Share the Road, where only a small fraction of the population own or have access to a car, the development of road infrastructure neglects the needs of the majority of road users – pedestrians and cyclists.
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, protects vulnerable road users and income earning adults from high-speed motor traffic, and increases affordable access to vital services and employment.
Share the Road calls for more balanced investments in road infrastructure so that an integrated, multi-modal urban transport system can be built instead of a costly car-centric system. In order to shift the decision-making in major investments, Share the Road works with governments and donor agencies (multilateral and bilateral banks and agencies) to develop policy that systematically allocates a portion of project funds to infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. Such investments are key to establishing sustainable transport systems which are central to a Green Economy and to achieving the goals of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety (2011-2020), as well as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Africa is the current region of focus and Share the Road has initiated Country Projects in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, to achieve the following objectives:
· Encourage development of government policy that promotes the balanced distribution of investments across a variety of transport modes – private motor vehicles, public transport, and walking and cycling.
· Promote development of action plans with goals and timelines for improving investment in walking and cycling road infrastructure, to be well-integrated with public transport developments.
· Support demonstration projects serving as examples of shared, sustainable roads which result in a variety of benefits in environment, safety and overall mobility.
More country projects are under development with the mid-term goal of further engaging with key regional donors in Africa to eventually launch a regional financing partnership for NMT.