Training engineers in Bishkek to design safer roads for pedestrians

Kyrgyzstan, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

Pedestrian safety in Bishkek needs urgent attention: according to police data, 336 children and young people were involved in road collisions in the city during 2018 alone. Supported by the EBRD Shareholders Special Fund, EASST and our partners in Kyrgyzstan, Road Safety PA, have been working to build local solutions to this problem. In order to tackle dangerous urban roads, we have been training engineering specialists in Bishkek to recognise and address the most hazardous locations.

From June 24-26th, thirteen road engineers from Bishkek have undergone a special training course on conducting road safety audits focussing on non-motorised road users – pedestrians, families with pushchairs, people with disabilities, cyclists and others. The training was carried out by Tolga Imamoglu, EASST’s partner in Turkey and an active trainer for the WRI (World Resources Institute), working to make the design of cities and transport more inclusive and less car-centred. Trainees included engineers from Bishkek municipality, the Road Police, Ministry of Transport & Roads and the Technical University.

The 3-day training included classroom sessions on the essentials of identifying issues and solutions for all urban road users – how to design safe, inclusive and prosperous city environments; how to protect pedestrians; the importance of engaging local communities; and how to manage high-risk locations. The training then took to the streets, where trainees were divided into three groups to carry out a non-motorised road user safety assessment guided by Tolga.

The road chosen, Akhunbaeva, was the location of no less than 16 road collisions in 2018. Two child pedestrians were injured at one intersection alone, Akhunbaeva-Maldybaeva. Drawing from their classroom training, the three groups made detailed assessments of the problems and issues to be addressed. They asked many questions throughout, and took their time to consider the intersection from its different perspectives.

On the third day the groups returned for a reporting session where they presented their conclusions. They each recommended the implementation of compact, clear and visible, safe pedestrian crossings with short distances between legs. They covered issues of road markings and signage, traffic signals and crossing times (including a pedestrian green phase that is adequate for all users), curb extensions, and how to eliminate obstacles to visibility and mobility such as parked vehicles, tree branches, and an oil station that is badly placed.

In the words of engineering trainer Tolga Imamoglu, “On the first day of training the local engineers were focussed on road safety countermeasures, but from the perspective of drivers and vehicles. By the last day of training they were raising issues of access for people with disabilities and making the city more inclusive. This for me is the best demonstration of the value of training local engineers.”

Director of Road Safety PA, Chinara Kasmambetova, gave her praise for Tolga’s training: “The presentations were really good and well-received, with many questions from the trainees. Despite having busy jobs (almost all the trainees had to go back to work at the end of each day), the trainees prepared their presentations and took the tasks very seriously. Many expressed their gratitude to Tolga, to us and to the EBRD for arranging the training and for wanting to change the local road situation.”

The EBRD project, ‘Supporting Safe and Sustainable Roads in Bishkek,’ will continue until November this year with further activities on seat belt and child restraint use, raising awareness of pedestrian safety among drivers, improving enforcement and promoting visibility.