In current times, streets are no longer seen as only the domain of the polluting automobile. The streets have become the domain of public life and active citizenry, who can choose to move in a variety of healthy and safe ways around their city with clean air.
The principles and objectives of sustainable urban street planning and design are:
• Promote the streetscape as an important stage for socio-economic interaction
• Organize all activities of the streetscape for optimal safety
• Accommodate the full demographic spectrum which includes children, the elderly and those who are disabled
• Open pedestrian ways for ease of access and proximity services
• Reduce dependency on fossil fuels and lower emissions
• Reduce vehicles kilometres travelled per capita
• Encourage the ease of use of non-polluting forms of transport
• Realize the health benefits of walking and cycling
Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) is now in the implementation stage of Konza Techno City (KTC) Phase 1. Full engineering design of the streetscape complete with all utility services is underway among other infrastructural facilities like wastewater reclamation facility, water treatment and storage reservoirs. In development of the streets, it is envisaged that not only will Konza’s residents have options for transport, but will also be supported to take advantage of new ideas like car and bike sharing, as well as ICT integrated transport.
In light of trends in modern and smart cities, some interesting and sustainable transportation planning concepts have been adopted in the design guidelines for development of streets at Konza. Some of the street planning and design concepts adopted include:
Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
Konza Technology City is envisioned as a model of sustainability through integrated land-use/transit design which is a key part of the solution for sustainable development. The multimodal concept for the proposed site brings together the many different means of transport in one place with logical, safe and convenient transfers. A city-wide plan for both public transport and automobiles is essential to developing a system that is integrated and reduces vehicle distances travelled. By systematically integrating (potential) commuter rail, light rail, bus, taxi, bicycle, moto-taxi, walking and other forms of mobility, automobile both private and shared with appropriate land-use, many of the other basic principles of Sustainable Urbanism are also achieved. When transit is integrated with dense and mixed-use development in compact clusters and sustainable corridors, it provides the “bones” of the sustainable city. This is known as Transit-Oriented-Development (TOD).
TOD fosters greater use of a transit system through the creation of neighbourhoods within walking distance of transit stations that offer compact development, a diversity of land uses and pedestrian-oriented design. The TOD concept also relies on dense, mixed-use development directly adjacent to the transit facilities throughout the City. Public transportation, in combination with density, is a guiding element in creating innovative city forms. With this in mind, it is important to realize that TOD needs to embrace a comprehensive holistic approach that integrates the surrounding neighbourhoods, districts, pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods, with design strategies that foster alternative modes of transportation. Konza Technology City is planned with these considerations in mind.
Complete Streets, Living Streets and Green Streets
“Complete Streets” – Complete streets are multipurpose streets that blend vehicular, transit, bikeway, and pedestrian traffic with respect for all. Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, especially children. They encourage healthy pedestrian behaviour for all and they encourage independence in children. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities can safely move along and across a “complete street.” They promote economic development because walkers are closer to stores and small enterprises are located safely on appropriate streets. They make fiscal sense, integrating all elements of the roadway section.
“Living Streets” – Creating complete streets means transportation engineers and planners must change the orientation geared towards building primarily for cars. Instituting a “Complete or Living Streets” policy ensures that they enable safe access for all users: transit users, pedestrians and bicyclists, drivers, as well as for older people, children, and people with disabilities. Streets become important parts of the public realm, linking to parks, plazas etc. They have life and they encourage healthy lives for all their users.
“Green Streets” – Green Streets are special Complete/ Living Streets that are designed along with sustainable drainage systems. They have storm water runoff channels that recycle water for the benefit of urban plants, landscaping and gardens. They can include lovely linear parks along which people can cycle or walk, thus enjoying their neighbourhoods both inside the block and outside on the street. The more people on the street, the safer the neighbourhood.
Streetscape, Urban Spaces and the Public Realm
Streets are important transportation elements of any city, but increasingly they play an important role in both connecting to and becoming part of the public realm. In most Kenyan cities, the street has always been seen as a sphere of influence of vehicles rather than a centre of vitality and livelihood for the urbanites to gather, relax, gab or have a drink and for children to play. Nairobi City Centre itself for example has a rich fabric of public urban spaces and parks, which are currently being revitalized and newly appreciated. Likewise, the streets of Konza are designed in such a way as to preserve or resurrect these streetscapes and the public realm in a modern way.
The public realm includes a rich and diverse network of interconnected public spaces such as iconic urban plazas and leafy green parks, streetscapes and transit malls, promenades and serpentine walkways, smaller community and neighbourhood plazas, “pocket parks”, tiny found spaces, cross block walkways between buildings. Even vertical elements such as green roofs and raised walkways can contribute to this ensemble if they are publicly accessible.
Roadway Classification in Konza
The roadway classification system adopted in Konza will include a hierarchy of streets formulated so as to enhance integration in the transport system and will include arterial and collector roadways, local level roads and several “green streets”. The planned roadway includes the following basic roadway types:
Highway A109 Corridor, Interchange, and Gateway
A 109, along the east edge of the Konza site is a critical transportation corridor providing access to Nairobi to the north and Mombasa to the southeast from the site.
Some salient features of the A 109 highway are:
• A 109 is projected to ultimately become a limited access divided highway and accommodate 4-6 lanes of vehicular traffic and one dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane in each direction. It will expand over the years to accommodate additional transit lanes (from 2 to 4 to 6) for cars and future BRT needing dedicated lanes in addition to cars.
• A 109 shall be a limited access divided highway with a maximum of 3 interchanges and a 10m wide median. Access to Konza shall occur only at the interchanges. Pull-off space and development directly along the highway shall not be allowed. This will prevent the “choking” of this high-speed corridor by road side activity and prevent unwanted traffic from exiting or entering A109 without the use of acceleration or deceleration lanes.
• A natural open space visual buffer to the west of the highway shall be provided that could accommodate a potential future commuter railroad line and a frontage road running parallel to the A109 that would carry local/internal city traffic.
• Buildings shall not be allowed within the buffer zone of the A109 highway.
Green Transit Corridor – This 60m roadway section is a bus-only roadway with a 35m vegetated central median with a 4m bike lane located between the bus travel lanes. This section includes a 4m pedestrian walkway separated from the road by a 2m landscape area/tree lawn on one side or a 3m vendor zone with a 3m pedestrian walkway. These transit ways shall be the cultural backbone of the city along the main mixed-use stitch. Each block or two could have a different character. The different characters, theme or activities include:
– Parks with a variety of themes/activities
– Kenyan Cultural Market Place (Food, Art Crafts, etc.)
– Kids Park, Recreation, Amusements, etc.
– Sculpture Gardens
– Farmers Markets
– Senior Citizen Bocce ball, outdoor chess, etc.
– Meeting/gathering spaces
– Kiosks, seating, food vendors.
Auto Boulevard (4 Lane) – This 40m roadway section includes 2 mixed vehicle/transit travel lanes in each direction and 2.5m bike or parking lane with an 8m median with a left turn lane, a 2m landscape zone and 2m pedestrian walkways on both sides of the road.
Technology Boulevard (6 Lane) – This 40m boulevard section accommodates 1 bus lane and 2 mixed vehicle/transit travel lanes in each direction with an 8m vegetated median with a left turn lane, a 2m landscape zone with 3.5m pedestrian walkways on both sides of the boulevard. The typical road cross-section below illustrates this kind of street.
Typical Urban Local Street (2 Lane) – This 20m roadway section includes 1 vehicular travel lane in each direction with a 2.5m parking/bike lanes, a 2m landscape zone and 2m pedestrian walkways on both sides of the street.