EASST Partners hold region’s first Active Travel Youth Summits in Central Asia
Last month, EASST partners, the Young Generation of Tajikistan (YGT) and the National Federation of Autosport and Karting of Uzbekistan (NAFKU) each hosted an Active Travel Youth Summit in their respective countries, reaching over 100 young people, as part of our project ‘Reclaiming Space for Walking and Cycling’ supported by the FIA Road Safety Grants Programme.
These events were the first of their kind to be organised in Central Asia. Working with the Global Youth Coalition on Road Safety and Dr. Carl Smith of the University of Arkansas, the aim was to empower young people through awareness and capacity building to ensure meaningful youth participation and support them as future advocates for road safety and sustainable mobility.
The Summits included opportunities for young people to share their experiences and visions for improving safety of vulnerable road users in their countries. Each event included art workshops where young people were asked to draw a ‘spatial imaginary’ depicting their experiences as road users in their cities and their ideas of how urban spaces can be rethought to improve both safety and liveability.
In Dushanbe, several students from the University of Arkansas, who this semester have been studying Transitional Urbanism in the Post-Soviet City, were invited to join online to learn from the Summit participants about the history of urban design in Dushanbe and how young people in the city perceive it changing. This was an enlightening experience leading to discussions around the lack of safe pedestrian design and a lack of green space in the city.
At the end of the Summit, young people from Dushanbe came together to sign an open letter to local university leaders calling for more space on campus for walking and cycling. In Tashkent, the Summit provided a space for young people to explore active mobility from a wider perspective, addressing issues of road safety as well as health, the environment, and sustainable urban development.
This work is part of a wider objective, laying the foundations for sustainable change and adoption by local authorities of an active travel policy. By engaging young people, we are creating the next generation of citizen advocates to continue working on this issue and to call for implementation of the policy once it has been developed.
Next year, we will enter Phase 3 of the project, which will take a more targeted approach, building on the successes of the first two years and addressing lessons learned. We will focus on developing partnerships with local civil society and youth groups, expanding our work outside of the main cities, building local capacity, implementing a tactical urbanism demonstration, and installing some basic cycling infrastructure.