Small cities, big needs: Urban transport planning in cities of developing countries

M. Thondoo*, O. Marquet, S. Márquez, M. J. Nieuwenhuijsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Cities in developing countries face acute pressures due to increased motorization, urbanization and growing population. Urban transport planning systems can fuel healthy cities, yet research examining the interface between policies and needs in Africa remains scarce. A mixed-methods approach was used to assess the alignment between urban transport policies and self-reported citizens’ needs in Port Louis city (Mauritius). Logistic regression models were run to detect associations between needs and demographic indicators (age, gender, income). Three policy measures were assessed: light metro rail system, bus modernization scheme and road decongestion program. Six citizen needs and six mode of transit preferences were extracted from 1523 surveys (N). Citizens reported the need for improving sidewalks (80%), public spaces (77%), green spaces (67%), pedestrianizing strategic areas (66%), centralizing street-vendors at bus stations (57%) and regulating private vehicles entry in town (40%). The policies addressed 3 out of 6 needs, of which all were more likely to be expressed by poorer population groups. The policies did not respond to citizen needs for active modes of travel. They did not address health and social co-benefits of transport. Rather they emphasized an economic agenda focused on transport infrastructure as opposed to policy reforms in line with public needs that much more strongly highlight the integration of urban transport planning in social life. Citizen-centred approaches provide a unique opportunity to reform urban transport planning policies towards more healthy and equitable cities in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100944
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Citizen-centred policy
  • Healthy and sustainable cities
  • Urban and transport planning


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