Universal Design Awareness among Urban Planners and Its Impact on Public Transport Systems in Nairobi, Kenya

  • George Karani
Keywords: Accessibility, awareness, barrier, disability, public transportation, social inclusion, Universal Design


The idea of Universal Design began in the 1950s with a new attention to disability in the wake of the major world wars. Universal Design proposes a collaborative systems approach that benefits from the synergies of cross-functionalism by approaching the diverse challenges facing society through socially responsible design. Although the concept of Universal Design application in public transport has been growing through major legislative initiatives in the developed economies; there is a gap on how developing countries have integrated the importance and the benefits of Universal Design awareness in transportation systems. The main objective of this paper was to investigate the level of universal design awareness among professionals and the general public in relation to public transport systems in Nairobi-Kenya. Using exploratory and descriptive research design, the study employed a case study approach and utilized mixed methods, both qualitative and quantitative techniques. The study was carried out in Nairobi County with particular emphasis on three major bus termini within the CBD including: Ambassador Hotel-KenCom Interchange and bus termini (as a single section and General Post Office. The subjects of this study were bus drivers and touts, passengers (public transport users), policy makers, National and County Government officials in urban planning departments, professionals (engineers, quantity surveyors, designers, architects), Persons with Disabilities and would be users of public transport. The research results revealed that universal design is not a common concept known to most public transport users. The major element of perceptions revolved around cost of universal design application. The study established a lack of a clear framework and policies on universal design application in public transportation services creates inconvenience and difficult transfers at transportation system connections. The study concluded that universal design application in Nairobi city's public transport is key to social inclusion and can strengthen the urban planning agenda.