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Make highways friendly to those with disabilities

Crossing a public road, especially a busy highway, is perhaps one of the most dangerous undertakings in Kenya and Nairobi in particular. Road designers must have a clear understanding of the disabilities within the population in order to incorporate them in the designs.

Sidewalks like roadways, should be designed to serve all users. These include pedestrians who have vision impairments and people using wheelchairs and other assistive devices.
Just as a road will not be designed for one type of vehicle, the design of sidewalks and footbridges should not be limited to only one type of pedestrian.
Because the sidewalk is the basic unit of mobility within our overall system of transportation, every route and facility must be usable to persons living with disabilities.
While assistive technologies such as manual and electric wheelchairs, and white canes play a valuable role in enhancing the ability of people with disabilities to travel independently through the environment, these do not replace the need for proper infrastructure.
Perhaps the biggest risk right now is the danger posed by the new Thika Superhighway where proper signage is yet to be installed.
Speaking at a brainstorming forum held late last year between officials from the Roads ministry and residents living along Thika Road, Kenya National Highway Authority Director-General Meshack Kidenda said footbridges will be erected to serve those with disabilities who have to cross from one side of the road to the other.
Until then, persons living with disabilities are risking life and limb trying to cross the busy highway.


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