Supporting evidence-based road safety programming in Colombia

Main Image
260 children receiving helmets donated by TACC, with the Mobility Secretary of Bogota in attendance.
260 children receiving helmets donated by TACC, with the Mobility Secretary of Bogota in attendance.
Mr. Pagna Kim discussing the helmet safety intervention in South East Asia during the workshop on helmet observation methodology.
Mr. Pagna Kim discussing the helmet safety intervention in South East Asia during the workshop on helmet observation methodology.

The FIA Foundation convened a workshop in Bogota, Colombia on assessing the effectiveness of helmet safety programs for the Touring & Automovil Club de Colombia (TACC) and its partners from 11 to 13 September. This workshop was a part of a broader commitment of the Foundation for capacity building of automobile clubs, funded through the FIA Road Safety Grant programme, in developing and evaluating road safety interventions.

In 2017, the FIA Foundation funded the TACC for a project targeting increased helmet use amongst children and donations of helmet in two cities in Colombia. TACC has distributed 1,000 helmets for children in Bogota and is planning a further donation of about 200-300 helmets in Bucaramanga, in partnership with the Mobility Secretariat of Bogota and Bucaramanga. The recipients of the helmets in Bogota were children who are a part of the ‘To the School by Bike’ programme, a flagship programme of the Mobility Secretariat in Bogota.

The Foundation prioritizes capacity building for evidence based programming and knowledge exchange between its partners. As a part of this commitment, the Foundation invited the Pagna Kim and Roxy Gleeson of the AIP Foundation to train the representatives of TACC and its partners of the Mobility Secretariat of Bogota on evaluating helmet related road safety interventions. AIP Foundation have developed and assessed the ‘Helmet for Kids’ programme in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam using Helmet Observation method. This method was developed in partnership with the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, and has been implemented by AIP Foundation in Asia. It involves video recording of helmet wearing rates before helmets are distributed, immediately after helmets are donated and at the end of the school terms. As a part of the workshop, AIP Foundation trained 8 members of the TACC and the Mobility secretariat in Bogota. It also featured practical work around filming helmet-wearing rates before and after helmet distribution in two schools-Fe and Alegria and Robert F Kennedy School. As a result of the workshop, the Club got a first-hand experience on video recording, data collection from the recording, and processing and storage of data on helmet wearing rates.

Taking the opportunity of being in Bogota, the Foundation’s Programme Coordinator, Ms. Monalisa Adhikari (main picture above), who was in Colombia to convene the workshop, also attended three separate helmet donation programmes as well as met with key stakeholders working on road safety nationally and provincially in cities of Bogota and Bucaramanga. In the helmet donation ceremony, on 11 September, which was also attended by the Mr. Juan Pablo Bocarejo Suescun, Secretary of the Mobility Secretariat in Bogota, 260 children from 18 schools from 6 different zones of the city who cycle to school received helmets. At the ceremony, Mr Juan Pablo spoke about the Mobility Secretariat in Bogota’s commitment to creating safe and sustainable transport infrastructure in the city and how the Secretariat’s partners, including TACC, have been contributing to that vision.

Speaking at the helmet donation, Ms. Adhikari from the FIA Foundation said, “Keeping children safe on roads is a shared responsibility that requires coordinated action and a holistic approach. While prioritizing increased use of helmet by child cyclist to keep them safe on the roads, it is also critical to think about the other aspects, including, safe cycling infrastructure with segregated bicycle lanes, reduction of urban speed, and ensuring that safe and sustainable mobility is a policy priority, amongst others, which are critical to imbibing the Safe Systems approach. We are proud to support the ‘To the School by Bike’ programme.” and the partnership between the Mobility Secretariat and the TACC, which is working to contribute to the Safe System approach.

On 12 September, the Foundation’s Programmes Coordinator also met with the Dr. Riocardo Galindo, Director, Safe Roads Agency, the national body working on road safety as well as the Mr. Miller Salas, Mobility Secretariat of Bucaramanga. Dr. Galindo thanked the Foundation for supporting agencies in Colombia in their effort to reducing deaths and fatalities on Colombian roads. In the meetings, Ms. Adhikari, while discussing the broad portfolio of work of the Foundation in different low and middle income countries, also spoke about the need for better data and research to inform different road safety interventions, which was the primary purpose of organizing a workshop on evaluating helmet related road safety intervention in Bogota.

Reviewing the lessons from the workshop, Mr. Alfredo Albornoz, the Director General of TACC remarked, “We have had three days of great learning of a methodology to observe and assess the helmet wearing rate of children. Given that our intervention focuses on helmet donation, through the use of this methodology, we will be able to measure the real impact on children's behavior with regards to helmet use. . We are also currently planning and discussing the feasibility of applying the methodology in our next helmet donation programme.” Further adding on the workshop, Maritza La Rotta Bernal, the Manager of "To the School by Bike" program in Bogota said, “The workshop on helmet assessment, helped us realise the relevance of conducting observations to measure the impact of using helmets on the road, especially for kids who go to the school on bicycle. The ‘To the school by Bike’ team attending the training, learnt the method to assess if there are changes in the behaviour of children who cycle to school, as well as learned about strategies and interventions that helps increase the use of helmets’.

Mr. Pagna Kim, of the AIP Foundation, discussing the workshop’s achievements said, “It is really my great pleasure to co-facilitate a three-day productive training TACC and its partners in Bogota and help them learn a new evaluation methodology, filming helmet observation, for the school based helmet intervention. I am confident that with all the techniques, tips and tools we provided and practical fieldworks we made, the TACC team will be able to use this evaluation methodology independently, not just to assess their program’s effectiveness, but also explore ways to improve the great work they have been doing in order to save more kids’ lives in Colombia.”

To gather momentum for the delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 3 and 11, that focus on safe and sustainable mobility, effective safety interventions is critical. Automobile clubs are uniquely positioned to take this momentum forward, and the Foundation’s support in enhancing their capacities in evidence-based programming is likely to be pivotal in this process.