Supporting Bishkek transform into a Safe City

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EASST's Director Emma MacLennan speaks at the conference.
EASST's Director Emma MacLennan speaks at the conference.
Participants included representatives from different government and civil society organisations.
Participants included representatives from different government and civil society organisations.
Emma MacLennan with the Mayor of Bishkek Albek Ibraimov and the British Ambassador HE Robin Ord-Smith.
Emma MacLennan with the Mayor of Bishkek Albek Ibraimov and the British Ambassador HE Robin Ord-Smith.

A major road safety programme has begun in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, following a report and series of events by FIA Foundation partner EASST on the scale of deaths and injuries on Kyrgyz roads.

The number of Kyrgyz road crashes increased by 62% in just one year between 2016 and 2017, rising to 1,236, according to the report which was published by Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST) and its local partner Public Association Road Safety (PARS). The World Bank estimates that 5.22% of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP is lost annually as a result of the economic cost of road crashes, death and injury.

Action is being taken at a national and regional level to address the issues of road safety and city design. The Presidential decree, adopted in July 2017, plans action delivered through an integrated approach between ministries to create the political framework for smart cities, including Bishkek.

In the city of Bishkek alone, with a population of just one million people, 34 pedestrians were killed and a further 536 were injured in the past year, a quarter whom were children under the age of 16. Following these findings, the Mayor of Bishkek has agreed to share details of 30 dangerous road crossings, which could benefit from the technical recommendations on road design by EASST.

The report also highlighted the context of road traffic crashes in the country, including the strong seasonal influence; 87% of all pedestrian deaths and injuries occurred during the months of October to February. A detailed analysis of ‘black spots’ identified where four or more pedestrians have been hit by a vehicle during the year, and made a series of practical recommendations.

The findings of the report have already prompted action in Bishkek to install traffic and new zebra crossings. During a visit to Bishkek, EASST’s Emma MacLennan met with the Prime Minister, Sapar Isakov, the Mayor of Bishkek, Albek Ibraimov, and the head of the Republican Police, Kanat Dzhumagaziev, to discuss the long-term commitment to safe and sustainable transport. The Prime Minister and the Mayor expressed the need for the support of partners, like EASST, to translate the Smart Cities framework into action in Bishkek, and EASST has also been asked to train polices officers in road safety enforcement.

EASST has a longstanding history of work in the region and hosted a conference and workshop to highlight a number of issues including the need for safer infrastructure, safe mobility and pedestrian behaviour with key local and national decisionmakers. PARS is currently consolidating all the recommendations provided in these meetings and will forward the recommendations to the Commission of Road Safety, Kyrgyzstan.

Conference – 15 March

At an EASST road safety conference, ‘Pedestrians: How to strengthen their security?’, in Bishkek 60 representatives from government and civil society organisations joined together to discuss roads safety. Funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) the event explored pedestrian safety and the concept of a Smart City, as well as technical guidance around high risk road crossings and participants included the city’s Traffic Police, Mayor’s office and City Transport group.

“Safe and sustainable roads that are people-centred rather than vehicle centred are not only lifesaving but also significantly improve mental and physical health, economic development and tourism” said British Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, H.E. Robin Ord-Smith, while opening the conference said, “I am very proud that the UK Embassy in Kyrgyzstan is able to support this work and very much hope that in the near future the streets of Bishkek will be safer and healthier places for everyone to enjoy.”

During a presentation on the findings of the EASST report, Kysonao Daniyar, on behalf of the Mayor’s Office, reiterated the city’s commitment to work on the recommendations. Promising immediate, practical action, he said: “We are grateful to the detailed analysis of blackspots and the suggestions forwarded by the report. In the Vitebskya crossroad, mentioned in the report, we will install traffic lights within a month, while we will paint a new zebra crossing at Sovetskllaya- Bokonbaeva. And for the rest, we will give your recommendations to other departments we work with and take decisions.”

Training seminar – 14 March

A training seminar focused on designing roads for vulnerable road users, ‘Engineering solutions for pedestrian safety’, was held for faculty members from technical universities in Bishkek. Hosted by the Agriculture University, it was attended by 35 faculty members of five universities in Kyrgyzstan including, Kyrgyz National Agrarian University (KNAU), Kyrgyz National University, Kyrgyz State Technical University, Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University, and Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transport and Architects. Building on the concept of pedestrian safety within the theme of Smart Cities, the event focused on the use of data and mapping on road safety, as well as principles of safe intersection design. It also highlighted the need for further road safety for transport engineers in the region. Speaking about the workshop, Jyrgalbek Sharsheel, Director of KNAU Technical and Economic College remarked, “Comparative cases of how road safety is addressed in Europe underscores the need to engage people in the planning process when thinking about roads. It will help reorient my lectures while training road engineers”.