Slower speeds and new pedestrian infrastructure installed at School no. 12 in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan

Active Travel and Healthy Streets, Azerbaijan, Children's Road Safety, News

Earlier this month, the road outside School no. 12 in Sumgayit City in Azerbaijan was transformed into a new ‘Safe School Zone’ with reduced speed limits, high-profile ‘School Zone’ signage, a newly painted zebra crossing, and a new LED signal-controlled pedestrian crossing.

The work was carried out by the National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan (AMAK) in partnership with the State Traffic Police Department, the Sumgait City Executive Power, and Absheron-Khizi Regional Education Office with support from the Safer Roads Foundation and the FIA Foundation.

The project is part of the Step by Step: EASST Safe Crossings Initiative which aims to transform unsafe roads into safe, accessible, and liveable public spaces.

Prior to the upgrades, the school had been identified by local traffic police as extremely high risk with 18 serious crashes being recorded in the vicinity of the school in the last three years – accounting for four deaths and 14 serious injuries.

Despite there being a zebra crossing in front of the school, vehicles were travelling at high speeds and, according to the school’s Director, “few stopped to allow pedestrians to cross”. There was also a significant problem with parking on both sides of the road blocking visibility of those using the crossing.

The new school zone has been warmly welcomed by the school Director, teachers, and local police – all of whom took part in an official ribbon cutting event outside the school gates last week.

With over 2000 pupils using this crossing every day, the new crossing and reducing the speed limit from 60km/h to 40km/h is going to have a huge impact. Students, teachers and parents will no longer have to run across the road and dodge fast moving traffic. They will be able to cross safely and comfortably.

Through projects such as this, the road authorities and traffic police in Sumgayit are becoming increasingly attuned to the value that evidence-based approaches and recommendations for infrastructure improvements can have on eliminating road risk and improving safety. They are able to see at first-hand how effective road infrastructure can change and impact on road user behaviour – ultimately making roads safer for everyone.