The rights of free and safe access for pedestrians with low mobility are violated on the streets of Chișinău

The rights of free and safe access for pedestrians with low mobility are violated on the streets of Chișinău

Seven out of ten people with limited mobility in Chisinau do not feel safe or even in danger when walking around the city or particularly when crossing the street. This is one of the observations of the study "Identifying the needs of people with limited mobility in the field of road safety in Chisinau", conducted by the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM), in partnership with the experts of the Center for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CDPD) and Universal Access Ltd.

100 people with limited mobility from Chișinău, among them - 46% people with disabilities, 36% parents with children and 15% elderly people participated in the study.

The aim of the research was to assess the safety of pedestrians of groups with limited mobility in Chisinau and to provide recommendations for the responsible authorities. When asked if they feel dangerous while crossing the street, 72% of the respondents answered that they feel insecure or even in danger. Only 28% of the interviewees confirmed they experience an average level of safety when crossing the street.

One of the main issues faced by persons with low mobility when crossing the street or walking through the city was mentioned the driver behavior. 48% surveyed blamed the behavior of drivers, considering that they do not pay enough attention to pedestrians, exceed the speed limits at pedestrian crossings, do not give them priority even if they are already on the zebra crossing and are aggressive. Other factors generating insecurity, while moving on the streets of Chisinau, mentioned by people with limited mobility are: too short traffic light time on green light; hard-to-reach underground passages; cars parked on sidewalks or in front of ramps; bumps and potholes on the sidewalk; pedestrian obstacles; lack of tactile coating and contrasting markings, etc.

As part of the study, the interviewed persons were asked to describe the most problematic intersections in terms of safety and accessibility. They remarked that the most dangerous are the streets with long pedestrian paths, with several traffic lanes; the crossings without traffic lights with special sound signal. 12% of the respondents mentioned the boulevard Stefan cel Mare si Sfant, and other 10% of them named the main streets of the capital: Ismail, București, Dacia and D. Cantemir boulevards, etc.

The survey participants also recommended some potential improvements for pedestrian safety at intersections. 95% consider necessary the arrangement of ramps and lowering the curbs at pedestrian crossings. 89% of the respondents of groups with low mobility suggested installation of more sound traffic lights, and 67% proposed installing tactile pavement at the pedestrian crossings.

The survey was carried out within the “Equal Road Rights” project implemented by the Automobile Club of Moldova in partnership with UNIVERSAL ACCES Ltd, 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).

Part of the activities planned for 2020, the project partners installed 10 sound traffic lights systems at 3 crowded junctions in the city, which are most often used by people with disabilities. At the suggestion of the surveyed persons, the following streets were selected for the installation of sound systems: Stefan cel Mare şi Sfânt boulevard intersection with Pushkin street - 2 units; the connection of Nicolae Zelinski and Hristo Botev streets with Dacia boulevard - 2 units; Ismail street intersection with Mitropolit Varlaam street - 6 units.

Among the activities planned under the “Equal Road Rights” project are: conducting trainings on road safety and meetings with the project beneficiaries; organizing public awareness campaigns; continuous cooperation with local authorities to improve pedestrian crossings, taking into account the necessary safety measures for people with low mobility.