EASST partner NACU promotes cycling as a viable means of everyday transport in Tashkent

Active Travel and Healthy Streets, News, Uzbekistan

EASST partners, the National Automobile Club of Uzbekistan (NACU) with support of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is working to make cycling a viable means of everyday transport in Tashkent.

The project is designed for young people with a goal to promote sustainable means of transportation, namely cycling and walking, as a viable alternative to car travel. It aims to generate momentum around the topic, with specific focus on engaging and encouraging young people to be active advocates for more sustainable ways of travelling. The project intends to raise awareness and generate interest through a series of visibility events, which will inform and educate the public and decision makers on the benefits of more eco-friendly transport modes. The idea is to open dialogue with decision makers with a long-term goal of changing policies to encourage sustainable transport and initiatives such as introducing safe cycle lanes into the city infrastructure and dis-incentivising car use.

Car-free streets “increase physical activity, decrease pollution levels, aid social inclusion and community building, provide opportunities for economic revitalization, and promote biking and walking in a safer environment”.[1] Up to 50% of urban trips shorter than 5km are currently made by car.[2] These trips could be easily replaced by active modes like cycling, but concerns about safety remain a major reason for preventing people from making the change.

To help counter this NACU has launched a Safe Cycling Training Program to improve road safety awareness of cyclists and help them feel more confident on the road. NACU devised a curriculum of practical lessons for young people to teach basic safety rules of using a bicycle on the road. The training includes such topics as (1) how to equip a bicycle and the rider correctly to be visible on the road; (2) how to properly cross the road with a bicycle; (3) the importance of using a helmet; (4) road signs and signalling. Participants are given the opportunity to ride through a mock cycle path equipped with obstacles and observing the basics of safe behaviour as a cyclist on the road. Participants also receive reflective safety vests as visibility on road – by wearing reflective clothes, having front and back lights – is one of the crucial aspects of safe cycling.

Safer road infrastructure and facilities for cyclists is also critical for making cycling a viable means of everyday travel. As part of this project, NACU are working with the Young Generation of the World to assess current legislation, policies, survey public opinion, and engage with decision makers to foster conditions for developing and improving the infrastructure needed for safe cycling.

In September, NACU organised a roundtable event chaired by Mr Abduhakimov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan to introduce the issue to key stakeholders. Presentations came from national and international heavyweights including the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt, iRAP, the Kazakh Scientific Research Institute for Road Safety, Asia Pacific Road Safety Observatory, World Health Organisation (WHO), Ministries of Transport and Internal Affairs and Tashkent City Municipality. It was the first time that such a multi-sectoral event on the issue of active mobility and road safety has been held in Uzbekistan and promised good engagement and follow up for future developments.

NACU took advantage of European Mobility Week and World Car-Free Day on September 22 to raise awareness of the benefits of switching away from cars and towards more active travel, and the importance of road safety. Teaming up with other organisations, including the UNDP, they took part in a mass cycle ride in Tashkent where they distributed reflective vests and materials to raise awareness about safety on the road and the benefits of cycling in terms of health, the economy, road safety, and the environment. 

The project is based on the Enable-Avoid-Shift-Move paradigm to encourage transition to a sustainable transport system using NACTO guidelines. It is taking a holistic approach, grounded in local stakeholder input, to develop policy on promoting active mobility. The results and findings of the project will be presented to decision makers at a Policy Dialogue meeting later this month where NACU will also present the new Global Plan for the Decade of Action on Road Safety 2021-2030, which includes within it a mandate for multi-modal transport and land use planning.

This project is supported by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Road Safety Grant Program.

[1] https://thecityfix.com/blog/6-ways-make-city-streets-safer-pedestrians-nikita-luke/

[2] Example from Tbilisi, Georgia