Advancing 30km/h School Speed Zones in Armenia, Moldova, and Georgia
With the support of the FIA Foundation Advocacy Hub, we have been working with our local partners in Armenia, Moldova, and Georgia towards securing policy change commitments to reduce speed limits to 30 km/h around schools.
It is well documented that the probability of being killed or seriously injured in a crash reduces significantly with lower speeds. The WHO recommends a maximum of 30km/h in built up areas where there is a mix of vulnerable road users and motorised traffic. In the EASST region, the average speed limit around schools is set at 40km/h, and even this is frequently exceeded due to low levels of enforcement and a lack of speed management infrastructure.
In 2021, our EASST partners surveyed their local communities to establish a baseline at the start of the new UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 on what the public feel about speeding and lowering speed limits on local urban roads, including around schools.
Analysis of the results at a regional level found that 80% of those surveyed believe that speed limits around school zones should be 30km/h or lower. However, less than 50% would support making 30km/h the new normal in all urban areas.
By focusing on schools, where there is clear public support for lower speeds, our aim is to make tangible changes and, crucially, measure the benefits to build a strong evidence base for countering the myths around low-speed areas more generally.
In each country, project activities have included a strong focus on building public support for 30km/h speed limits. Together they have reached over 1.5 million people via over 200 TV/Radio programs & social media posts. They have also held dozens of events at schools and with members of the community to raise awareness of the dangers of excessive speed and to promote the benefits of 30km/h speed limits.
One year into the project, our partners in Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova have been able to build on their established track record in working towards safer speeds and safe school zones while using their strong links to local authorities, national bodies, and governments to secure a series of promising developments towards changing policy to reduce speed limits to 30 km/h around schools.
During a high-level meeting, organised by EASST partner, the National Road Safety Council NGO (NRSC), key decision makers – including the Head of the Road Police and Head of the Engineering Department of the Road Police, as well as the Head of the Road Policy Department of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure – committed to initiating a pilot reduction of speed to 30km/h in at least two school zones and carrying out the necessary engineering solutions. This work is planned for early 2022.
NRSC has also been the lead author of the new National Road Safety Action Plan which includes a recommendation to implement 30km/h speed limits around schools as a default. The Action Plan has been submitted to the Government and is under review. If approved, the National Road Safety Action Plan will serve as the basis for legislative amendments to be made to speed limits around schools.
A series of roundtables and meetings of the National Road Safety Council, initiated by the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM), led the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure to establish a working group to examine the entry points and milestones for legislative amendments including the introduction in the new National Road Safety Strategy of compulsory 30km/h speed limits around schools AND on urban streets where pedestrians and cyclists frequently mix with motorised traffic.
In November 2021, the Ministry of Internal Affairs introduced these measures in a new proposal to the Road Regulations Amendments which it is hoped will be adopted by the Government in 2022. The proposed amendment is now posted on the government website for public consultation.
At a city level, in Chisinau, a petition signed by 15 national civil society organisations in Moldova has been delivered to the Mayor’s Office requesting compulsory speed limits of 30 km/h around schools and in the historical centre of the capital. Following assessments by ACM, pilot changes have already been implemented by the Mayor’s Office around one school in Chisinau, including new road signs and a raised Zebra crossing – with 30km/h speed limits introduced. Three further schools have also undergone assessment with recommendations approved by the Mayor’s Office. These schools will have speed management infrastructure installed and pilot speed reductions implemented in 2022.
The Partnership for Road Safety Foundation (PfRS) have organised a number of meetings, engaging up to 60 key decision makers, across the municipalities of Tbilisi and Zugdidi. Across both regions, they have made significant steps towards making school zones safer by installing speed management infrastructure and reducing speed limits to 30km/h around 35 schools. In addition, after measuring speed limits around 8 schools in Tbilisi, at least 4 new permanent speed cameras have been installed to enforce the new measures.
In addition, a policy report with city-wide recommendations has been prepared by PfRS and presented to Tbilisi City Hall, which has decided that a unified school zone standard meeting international best practice should be developed for the city. PfRS is working now on the development of this standard with representatives of the Roads Department with support from the organisation, 3M. Based on this standard, City Hall then hope to amend local policy to mandate 30km/h speed limits in school zones across the capital.
On a national level, they have also successfully engaged the State Audit Office with whom they have co-produced a report calling for reduced speed limits and improved enforcement around school zones. The document has been presented to the Parliament of Georgia and will be discussed in 2022.