Pedestrian Safety: An interview with Dr. Khayesi

Transportation safety is a growing concern in cities around the world. Every year more than 270,000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads, while millions are left with injuries or permanent disabilities.

The World Health Organization (WHO), FIA Foundation, Global Road Safety Partnership and the World Bank recently co-published a manual titled “Pedestrian safety: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners”.  On 07 May 2013, Nairobi Planning Innovation interviewed Dr. Meleckidzedeck Khayesi, one of the lead authors of the manual, to get his perspective on the findings and intentions of the project.

Please note that Dr. Khayesi and Dr. Margie Paden from the WHO Department of Violence and Injury Prevention Disability will be hosting a live discussion about pedestrian safety on Twitter, Friday, 17 May from 17:00-19:00 Nairobi time. Join the talk or send questions as Tweets to @UNRSC using the hash tag #walksafechat. For more information contact  vesicj@who.int.

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Nairobi Planning Innovations:: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got engaged in issues of pedestrian safety as well as your role in producing this manual

Dr. Khayesi:  I am a Technical Officer in the Department of Violence and Injury at the World Health Organization (WHO). I studied at Kenyatta University earning a Bachelors degree in Education, a Master of Arts degree in Geography and a PhD in the field of Transportation Geography.  I have worked at the World Health Organization (WHO) for twelve years in the department of Violence and Injury.  Over the last seven or eight years, WHO has collaborated with the World Bank, FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society and the Global Road Safety Partnership to produce a series of ‘how to’ manuals, which provide information on how to implement recommendations of the World report on traffic injury prevention. Included in this series are manuals on helmets (2006); drinking and driving (2007); speed management (2008); seat-belts and child restraints (2009); and data systems (2009).  The coalition’s most recent report, ‘Pedestrian safety: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners’ is another step in this effort to provide information on measures to implement to pedestrian safety around the world.

Nairobi Planning Innovations: What was the most surprising aspect or finding in producing this manual?

Dr. Khayesi:  A surprising finding that resulted from the study was that fatalities occur and are of concern in cities and other regions of high-income and low-income and middle-income alike.  Every year more than 270,000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads. It is an issue that all citizens of the world should be concerned about.

Nairobi Planning Innovations: How important do you think this document is for Kenya and what do you think the largest barriers to implementing the documents recommendations will be for your country?

Dr. Khayesi:  Kenya was one of the target countries that we had in mind when producing this document.  The rate of road traffic deaths in Kenya is high at 20.9 per 100 000 population. Pedestrians formed 47% of road users killed in road traffic crashes in Kenya in 2010. There are also problems with pedestrian deaths between cities – in the suburban areas with a high number of people that commute from the periphery to the city daily. This document was designed for policy makers and planners in urban centres and sub-national regions to help decision makers identify areas of high risk and then implement solutions.

Nairobi Planning Innovations: Who do you hope will take up this manual and use it to create change – who is the document meant for?

Dr. Khayesi:   We hope that engineers, health professionals and city managers at the sub-national level will learn from the lessons in this document. The manual is intended to be used by those who are designing and developing transportation system and by the policy makers and decision-makers who are involved in making decisions around transportation and road safety.

Because this manual was produced by a coalition of organizations, it also serves the purpose of building a network among practitioners in the fields of traffic safety, health and infrastructure design.  The result of this coalition is a comprehensive resource on the subject of pedestrian safety; one that need not sit on a shelf, but instead act as a practical guide.

Nairobi Planning Innovations: Is the WHO planning to launch the “Pedestrian safety: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners” in Kenya?

Dr. Khayesi: The manual is already freely available to anyone on the web at http://www.who.int/roadsafety/projects/manuals/pedestrian/en/. We will not be holding a specific document launch in Kenya, however the WHO will be delivering hard copy documents to many of our partners and related organizations in Kenya and other countries.

Nairobi Planning Innovations: Any last words of advice for advocates of safe streets?

Dr. KhayesiMy wish for those in the field of pedestrian safety in all countries and at all levels, is that the issue is studied and addressed in a comprehensive way, involving  health, neighbourhood land use, traffic regulation, social norms and road design.  We need planners and those who manage cities and sub-national regions to be concerned with road traffic injuries and to make decisions which prevent these fatalities in the future.

3 thoughts on “Pedestrian Safety: An interview with Dr. Khayesi

  1. Great idea Francis. I will be sure to raise this with press contacts and see what they think. It is awful that people who build roads seem to forget all the people who walk. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. NEWSPAPERS SHOULD BEGIN COLUMN ON ROAD SAFETY
    (from The Daily Nation: 28.05.13)

    Regarding Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s article on loss of lives through road accidents, we do not seem to give it the attention it deserves as road users. I wish this could be taken up further and consistently as a topical issue.

    For instance, Nation has weekly columns on motoring. Could this topic be tagged beside any of them? I believe it would get the attention of drivers and other road users. There are many issues for discussion besides the pertinent ones of drivers and laxity by traffic police. There is the role of pedestrians in accidents, lack of road markings and lack of pedestrian bridges.

    Mombasa road all the way from Athi River to Westlands has no single foot bridge.

    ANDAYI FRANCIS,
    Nairobi resident

    http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Letters/Nation-should-start-a-column-on-road-safety/-/440806/1865364/-/10jja6tz/-/index.html

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