Urban travel in Nairobi, Kenya: Analysis, insights, and opportunities

Deborah Salon, Eric M. Aligula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


We use a unique travel survey data set from Nairobi, Kenya to explain why, where and how people in Nairobi travel and the implications of this behavior pattern. We provide both an in-depth exploration and analysis of the travel patterns and preferences of Nairobi residents and a discussion of the implications of these results for transport policy in this city.The data show that the lack of suitable transport infrastructure exacerbates travel challenges for residents across all income groups. A substantial portion of the local population cannot regularly afford any form of motorized transportation. They thus are forced to locate in slums near sources of employment, and the widespread lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure increases the risk that they face when traveling. The middle income group who cannot afford private cars is almost completely dependent on the informal public transport system, which provides good geographic service coverage at the expense of service quality. Approximately 15% of Nairobi's households own cars. Our analysis shows that without policies that make non-motorized transport safer and public transport service better, car ownership and use will increase sharply as the city's residents become wealthier, further congesting already-overloaded roadways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
StatePublished - May 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Logit model
  • Public transport
  • Travel survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • General Environmental Science


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