An Investigation of the Ease of Crossing the Expanded Thika Highway and the Impact of this on Urban Communities and Businesses in Intermediate Centres

ABSTRACT
Thika Highway is a road full of promise. Businesses, work places and homes all linked by a
transport corridor that seems indefatigable. But did the designers get it all right?
This research exercise sought to investigate the ease of crossing the highway on foot and
what this means for communities in intermediate centres (Juja, Ruiru, Githurai and Roy
Sambu were selected).
The following aspects were studied:
· impact of the expansion of the highway on businesses (petrol stations were used as
representative of all businesses)
· Effectiveness of different types of pedestrian crossings (on-grade, off-grade) in curbing
accidents.
· students travel patterns i.e. how far do students travel to get to school and do they cross
Thika Highway?
· socialisation patterns across the highway e.g. how many friendships exist across the
highway? how strong are these friendships?
· functional integration between the east and west of the highway i.e do people
frequently cross the highway to get a good or service on the other side?
· how accessible is the design of footbridges to different types of users(e.g. people with
mobility challenges)?.
· how do users feel about the impact of the highway on their lives?
From a review of data findings, the following important conclusions were drawn:
· the design choice of what sort of crossing to provide has a strong impact on the
willingness of pedestrians to cross. Ground-level crossings were found to be more
popular with users. However, they are less safe when provided on-grade.
· there is a tendency of users to substitute shorter distances on foot across the highway
with much longer distances by motor vehicle along the highway. Poor design choices in
providing pedestrian crossings are thus likely to be contributing to congestion on the
carriage-way.
· despite evident attempts to build accessible footbridges, the designers failed to
completely support all potential users.
The study concludes by noting that what is needed is not more footbridges or measures to
force users to use the footbridge (such as barriers or trenches). Instead, the whole design of
pedestrian crossings needs to be overhauled to make designated crossings the best choice
for pedestrians.

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