Governments urgently need to limit speeds to 30 km/h (20 mph) on streets where people walk, live and play, says a new call to action from leading global agencies, NGOs and policymakers as part of COVID-19 response and recovery during the Streets For Life campaign for UN Global Road Safety Week (17 – 23 May) and beyond.
A special World Health Organization (WHO) press conference was held by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, and Zoleka Mandela, Global Ambassador, Child Health Initiative.
The Streets for Life campaign highlights the benefits of low-speed streets in urban areas to reduce road traffic injury – responsible for 1.35 million deaths each year and the leading global killer of young people – and deliver co-benefits through a shift to walking and cycling, delivering improved air quality, climate action and equity which are essential for building back from Covid-19.
Signatories of the call to action include: Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth; Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF; Ángela María Orozco Gómez, Minister of Transport, Colombia; James Wainaina Macharia, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Kenya; Lord Robertson, Chairman, FIA Foundation; and Michelle Yeoh, Actor & UN Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador for the Global Goals.
The call to action is supported by the announcement of a €15 million fund for a safe streets Advocacy Hub by global mobility philanthropy, the FIA Foundation to support policy change for safe, low-speed streets worldwide.
Speed is a significant contributor to road crash deaths: For every 1 km/h increase in speed, it is estimated that there is 4-5% increase in fatal crashes and 1 in 3 high-income country road deaths is attributed to speed.
“We need a new vision for creating safe, healthy, green and liveable cities,” said Dr Tedros. “Low-speed streets are an important part of that vision. As we recover and rebuild from COVID-19, let’s make safer roads for a safer world.”
“Our call to action launched today, is for low-speed streets in every community, all around the world. I call on leaders at all levels to please join the call to action. As we respond to and recover from COVID-19, please make our streets more liveable. Help people get to work, and to school safely. Help them lead healthier more productive lives. Our streets are for the people. Our streets are for our planet. Our streets are for life,” added Ms Mandela.