Designing streets for slower speeds: the transformation of School #2 in Sumgayit City and what we can learn

Azerbaijan, Children's Road Safety, News

Last month, a coalition of partners led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) unveiled Azerbaijan’s first ever temporary street transformation at School No. 2 in Sumgayit City. The aim of the transformation, which is funded by UK Aid through the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility, has been to reduce speeds around the school and improve children’s road safety.

Based on before and after observations, we can see that after only a few short weeks, the transformation has reduced congestion in front of the school and slowed traffic considerably with 17% fewer vehicles exceeding the speed limit and an overall reduction in top vehicle speeds of 33%. One parent whose child attends School no. 2 said:

“Schoolchildren do not experience congestion in front of school anymore and because of the speed humps, the speed has decreased a lot. We are so thankful for what you did.”

The Director of School No. 2 said:

“I would like to express my gratitude to the National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan and project partners for choosing our school for a pop-up street transformation and implementing such an important initiative. Your project will have a big impact on the safety of our school children on these roads. We hope that such initiatives will not stop with this school and that your projects will continue to be implemented in the near future and impact on the lives of our children”.

On 12th October, the EBRD, in partnership with the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST), the National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan (AMAK), and the Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI), organised a workshop for key decision makers, stakeholders, and media from both Sumgayit and Baku to assess the early impact of this transformation, discuss lessons learned, and examine how it may be replicated elsewhere in the country.

The workshop offered an overview of the key concepts of how to design streets differently to prioritise safety for children and reduce dangerous vehicle speeds on streets, including a combination of theory, case studies from around the world, and in-depth understanding of the design decisions that were applied to the temporary installation at School No.2. It was noted during the workshop that there is scope to reduce speeds even further with additional infrastructure changes around the school.

Delegates visited the site to see the impact for themselves, talk to designers and engineers who were tasked with refining the final design, and hear from students and teachers at the school.

“We must learn how to prioritise children on roads around schools. We are happy to have key global experts with us today from the Global Designing Cities Initiative who have produced a Toolkit on exactly how to do this, and very capable local partners from AMAK and EASST who have helped to develop this project.” – Kamola Makhmudova, Head of the EBRD’s Resident Office in Baku

To enable other groups to potentially replicate this work at other sites in the region and share the lessons learned from the transformation at School No.2, GDCI have produced a toolkit covering issues ranging from site selection, understanding local contexts, design development, and installation.

The toolkit will be available to stakeholders in Azerbaijan and may be used internally by EBRD as part of capacity building efforts for other projects. It can also be made available to other donors and shared with Road Safety Observatories and other interested institutions for use in other countries as part of national road safety investments or donor projects aimed at road infrastructure related speed management.