Upgraded road crossings in Chisinau help people with disabilities feel safer on the roads

Moldova, News, Safe and Inclusive Mobility

Last year, a survey conducted by EASST partners the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM) found that seven out of ten people with limited mobility in Chisinau do not feel safe when walking around the city – particularly when crossing the street.

The research identified three of the main challenges which contribute to people feeling unsafe. These include:

  1. A lack of infrastructure tailored for people with disabilities at pedestrian crossings, such as lowered curbs, acoustic traffic signals, and tactile paving.
  2. Obstacles in front of pedestrian crossings, including (but not limited to) steps on the sidewalk, bollards and parking meters, uncovered sewer wells, and parked cars.
  3. Problems with the organization of road traffic, meaning quick changing traffic lights not leaving enough time to cross the road.

A couple of participants described their experiences:

“I don’t feel safe moving around the city without an accompanying person. There are a lot of cars parked on the sidewalk or at the intersection and I bump into them when crossing the street… The sidewalks are damaged.”

“At wider intersections I usually fail to cross the street within the time indicated by the traffic light. Either I wait between two lanes or I finish crossing on the red light, and that makes me feel insecure. I move with crutches. Another challenge is that not all drivers give way and I am very careful when I want to cross the street”.

As a result of this research three intersections in Chisinau have now been upgraded.

Two pedestrian crossings where Dacia Boulevard meets Zelinski Street were given acoustic traffic signals and tactile paving was installed.

Acoustic traffic signals were installed on one crossing at Stefan cel Mare Boulevard and Puskin Street.

A pedestrian refuge island was built to break up the four-lane road where Ismail Street and Mitropolit Varlaam Street meet, lowered curbs and acoustic traffic signals were also installed.

The project ensured active consultation with people with disabilities throughout. People with visual impairments were invited to test out the acoustic signals to ensure that the volume and operating schedules being used were fit for purpose.

The renovations mark a first for Chisinau. It is the first-time acoustic signals have been used in the city and they are proving popular with pedestrians.

A follow up survey at each of these crossings found a huge improvement in perceptions of safety. 34% respondents said they felt that safety was ‘acceptable’ and 58% reported feeling safe or very safe. This is hugely significant when compared to other intersections in the city where only 2% respondents reported feeling safe!

The project has led to calls for more intersections to be upgraded, with specific recommendations to improve lighting, improve disabled access to underground crossings, and create more parking areas to move parked cars off the streets. Another significant issue to be addressed relates to the number of drivers that ignore the signals and continue to drive through when the crossing is ‘green’ for pedestrians. Indeed, in Chisinau 60% pedestrians involved in road traffic collisions are hit in spaces designated for their movement such as sidewalks and traffic islands.

These recommendations have been presented to the Transport Department of Chisinau and a proposal for a pilot transformation is currently being discussed with the Department and Traffic Police.

Download the full report by ACM here.

The work was carried out within the “Equal Road Rights” project implemented by the Automobile Club of Moldova in partnership with UNIVERSAL ACCES Ltd, LUMETH, CDPD and Chisinau City Hall, supported by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), FIA Foundation and Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST).