Tactical urbanism provides safe space for pedestrians at Uralsk railway station

Active Travel and Healthy Streets, Kazakhstan, News

With the support of Shell Kazakhstan and Eni, EASST and local partners Gauhar Zhol have created a new pedestrian zone at Uralsk railway station to improve road safety.

The railway station is one of the main transit hubs in the city. Hundreds of people travel through the station every day, many arriving by car. There is a constant flow of vehicles mixing a high volume of pedestrians as well as densely parked cars. This situation has led to a number of collisions.

Our local partners Gauhar Zhol started out by conducting a survey of passengers, drivers, and the owners of a nearby café to better understand their perceptions of safety around the station and gather their opinions on how the area could be improved.

EASST’s Tatiana Mihailova, who is trained to use the GDCI transformation methodology, partnered with a local street-artist and active urbanists from Uralsk to draw up plans of how the space outside the station could be transformed to streamline parking, re-organise traffic away from pedestrian areas, and make the space more comfortable for people as they wait for their train.

The local artist said, “The environment has a great impact on people, for instance, on their self-perception and habits. If a healthy and comfortable environment appears in the city, then this will definitely have a positive effect on people, inspiring them for greater and better things.”

With the support of the local authorities under the Akimat of Uralsk, a transformation was carried out. Road pillars with reflective stripes were installed to demarcate a parking area for taxis and minibuses. Benches were installed and an attractive pedestrian zone was marked out with paint and planters.

This ‘tactical urbanism’ has already appeared to have had a positive effect. After the transformation was complete a follow-up survey was carried out resulting in an 87% increase in perceptions of safety! The majority of respondents were extremely positive about the changes. Taxi and minibus drivers in particular noted an increase in safety after the parking area was reorganised while café owners observed that their patrons could now freely get to their venues without the risk of a collision with vehicles.

The transformation was the first time something like this has been done in Uralsk. We hope that it will be the first of many initiatives to upgrade pedestrian zones into more comfortable and safe spaces for all.