Two schools in Bishkek pilot 30km/h while a further two get road safety upgrades

Kyrgyzstan, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building, Safe road infrastructure

Public Association ‘Road Safety’ are leading the way on improving road safety around schools in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Supported by EASST through the FIA Foundation Advocacy Hub and Safer Roads Foundation, ‘Road Safety’ have successfully advocated for 30km/h speed limits to be piloted around two high-risk schools in the Kyrgyz capital as well as organising and overseeing road safety infrastructure improvements at two further schools.

The pilot speed reductions follow two years of campaigning and a public commitment made by the Head of the Traffic Police during this year’s #StreetsForLife Road Safety Action Week. In Bishkek, 22% of pedestrian casualties are children or young people under the age of 16 and while the current speed limit around schools in Bishkek is set at 40km/h, there is a high speed tolerance and operational speeds tend to be much higher. There are also significant issues around parking, congestion, and air quality.

Reducing the speed limits around these pilot schools is a huge achievement. 30km/h speed limits are proven to not just save lives but also encourage more people to opt for more active modes of travel, reducing congestion and improving air quality. EASST will be working with ‘Road Safety’ over the course of these pilots to measure the benefits and raise awareness of the importance of slower speeds. Our aim is for these pilots to become permanent and serve as a leading example for other schools in the city.

In addition to this, with support from the Safer Roads Foundation, ‘Road Safety’ and EASST have upgraded two intersections in the city which are located on two core routes to school. Together these intersections have accounted for almost 20 road casualties in the last three years.

The improvements have included installing new LED traffic lights and pedestrian signals with countdown indicators, new road signs, improving paving and road markings, as well as building the country’s first ever pedestrian refuge island. All improvements have been designed and installed according to international best practice and serve as an example for future work being carried out in the city.

Comments from local road users are already showing an improvement:

“Before, the zebras here were all crooked and they were in the wrong place. Now it is safer to cross when the traffic light is on. I used to cross the road only by looking at other people – if people crossed then I also crossed. But now they put a new traffic light and I can cross myself easily.” – Girl from local school

“At the intersection on Maldybaeva – Akhunbaev the traffic light was often not visible because they only faced either north or south. If a big truck was in the right-hand lane it blocked the traffic light and you had to be guided by the pedestrian lights or by traffic on Akhunbaev St. Now the situation has changed. The new traffic lights are LED. They are clearly visible and cover all sides of the road. Now it’s safer to drive and see the traffic light signals both from the left and right lanes.” – local driver.

“We really like the painted zebras. It’s really very convenient when crossing with a pushchair. There wasn’t a pedestrian walkway before, but now there is one and it’s very convenient. Especially when crossing with children and pushchairs.” – local mother and baby.

“I especially like the safety island because elderly people can cross or wait on the island if they didn’t manage to cross the road [in one go]. The zebra is painted really well. It’s really good for pedestrians. There was a hole over there, where there were a lot of car crashes. But now at last it’s been filled in. Everything is done really well. Thank you.” – pedestrian.

In 2021, we implemented similar changes at another intersection in Bishkek which has seen a 50% reduction in the number of crashes over the last year. We will continue to monitor these new crossings but hope to see a similar significant reduction in pedestrian collisions and casualties over the next year as we look to improve more dangerous crossings in Bishkek.