Advocacy Hub partner EASST polls ‘Streets for Life’ support in target countries

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EASST partner National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan (AMAK) took part in a range of activities during UN Global Road Safety.
EASST partner National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan (AMAK) took part in a range of activities during UN Global Road Safety.

Support for low-speed ‘Streets for Life’ is significant across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with more than three-quarters of the public supporting school zone road speeds of 30km/h or lower. The results are highlighted in new polling from FIA Foundation Advocacy Hub partner Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST), which is building momentum to secure policy change in the region.

The polling was undertaken to establish a regional knowledge baseline at the start of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety in order to understand public perceptions of speed and the benefits of lowering speed limits, to frame country-level advocacy campaigns as well as to act as a measure of public opinion. Polling asked over 3,000 respondents across nine countries about their perceptions of speeding and lowering speed limits to 30km/h on local urban roads, with a particular emphasis on school zones. The survey will be repeated at least once in two years’ time to track how public opinion may be shifting as a result of the project activities.

The results demonstrated clear public support for lower speeds around schools at a regional level as 77% of respondents supported speeds of 30km or lower around schools and 50% supported low speeds across all urban areas. The survey also identified that a number of myths about the impact of low-speed streets still persisted. 40% those polled believed low-speed streets increase congestion and vehicle emissions, 38% thought they increased journey times, and a quarter believed that reducing speeds had no impact on the frequency and severity of road casualties (26%).

Polling also highlighted marked differences of opinion between some countries, for example, in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine the level of support for 30km/h speeds around schools was just 22%, 28% and 25%, respectively. These findings will help partner NGOs plan and frame their advocacy campaigns to address country-specific issues, challenge negative myths and highlight the significant and wide-reaching benefits of low-speed streets.

EASST is working with its network of local NGO partners across nine countries: Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Ukraine. Across these countries, EASST’s NGO partner network is advocating for lower speeds and safe school zones, delivering the FIA Foundation’s Manifesto 2030 and the recommendations of the Stockholm Declaration through mentored grants, capacity building, and knowledge sharing. In the EASST region, the average speed limit around schools is set at 40km/h, and even this is frequently exceeded due to low levels of enforcement and a lack of speed management infrastructure. Securing policy change commitments to reduce speed limits to 30 km/h around schools is an urgent priority.

Reflecting the variations in existing legislation, EASST is providing tailored support to address this using a streamed approach. The ‘Persuaders’ stream include partners in Armenia, Moldova and Georgia who have a track record in working towards Safe School Zones and have identified clear policy goals that might be realistically achieved over the two-year period. The ‘Pathfinders’ include partners in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Ukraine who have further to travel on their policy journey. These NGOs are beginning the journey to policy change by building local support for safe school zones and advocating for small scale projects to lay the foundations for future policy change at a district or city level.

Agnieszka Krasnolucka, Programmes Manager of the FIA Foundation, said: “The FIA Foundation Advocacy Hub is supporting our coalition of partners to help deliver the policy changes to deliver streets for health, streets for climate, and streets for people. EASST’s network of NGOs is supporting governments to understand the deep existing public support for streets for life as well as the misinformation that needs to be tackled to successfully legislate and implement low-speed legislation.”

Corrine Vibert, Director of Communications, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning for EASST, added: “When it comes to children’s road safety, priority number one is speed reduction. Our practical interventions, developed in collaboration with our local partners, include traffic calming and police speed enforcement training along with advocacy campaigns aimed at reducing legal speed limits and introducing slow speed zones around schools. Through our tailored approach, we hope to see lasting and sustainable changes that improve safety for all children.”