New EASST Working Group seeks equal access to public transport for all
Disability and road risk are closely interlinked. Every year 20 to 50 million people are injured on the world’s roads, and an estimated 30 per cent of those people remain permanently disabled. Road injury is not just a major cause of permanent disability; people with disabilities are also more at risk on the roads. Making roads and public transport more inclusive for people with disabilities is vital to reducing this risk as well as giving people with disabilities the independence and freedom to travel how and when they like, without barriers.
As such, since 2016, EASST has been supporting its partners across the region in examining the relationship between disability, mobility and road risk at an individual country level. The aim is to gather data, build knowledge and raise awareness of inclusive mobility as a road safety issue.
What happened in Minsk
During this year’s EASST All Partners Meeting in Minsk, we have focused on sharing the results of this initial work, discussing the impact of poor mobility on both social and economic development, and highlighting practical solutions to improving mobility and supporting people with disabilities, both in Minsk and beyond.
International and local experts addressed various aspects of the issue in a panel discussion, in particular our panel talked about the importance of stakeholder engagement and including people with disabilities in the discussion and consultation processes when it comes to making roads and cities fit for purpose – not just for people with disabilities but for all road users. The conference united representatives from across government departments, including the Minister of Health, Mr. Yuriy Osipov, with stakeholders from the transport sector and civil society – including a strong representation of people with disabilities from a range of disability groups based in Minsk for dialogue and consultation on such a vital issue.
Serghey Drozdovskiy, Mobility activist and CEO of the Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities, shared his experiences of travelling as a disabled person both in Belarus and internationally and the accessibility barriers he faces on a daily basis.
EASST partners from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova delivered a joint presentation on their projects in which people with disabilities have been surveyed for their perceptions on accessibility and inclusivity as pedestrians, drivers and public transport users. Each report includes a number of recommendations aimed at improving the situation in each individual country and while differing in the nuances, each have shown better accessibility and inclusivity in terms of road design, safety, and public awareness are urgently needed.
Following on from the wider discussions, EASST founding partner Poghos Shahinyan led an advocacy workshop for all EASST partners on how they can take their work forward and use their reports to promote safer and more inclusive transport in their countries.
What happens now
Seeing inclusive mobility introduced as a policy priority across the EASST region is our core objective. As such, from our meeting in Minsk we are happy to announce the launch of a joint-initiative amongst EASST partners to advocate for better and more accessible public transport for all people, especially those with disabilities. Our EASST partners have formed an advocacy Working Group which will see this work realised across the region so that every person has access to safe, affordable accessible transport systems (SDG 11.2).
Speakers and panellists during the conference included Alexander Pivovarsky, Head of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Country Office; Elena Titova, Chairperson, Belarusian Association of Assistance to Children and Young People with Disabilities (NGO “BelAPDIiMI”); Matt Chamberlain, International road safety consultant; Fiona Gibb, British Ambassador to Belarus and Kirill Sinutich, Deputy Head, Department of Passenger Transportation at the Belarusian Agency for Capital Transport and Communication.