Making our neighborhood a safer place is everyone’s task. Moving cars from pavements, creating pedestrian zones are some of the solutions available. Let's become responsible members of society; let's change our neighborhood together.
When we found out about this contest we already knew what to do. It happened so that the idea that we developed in our project called “School neighborhood redevelopment”, meaning creating a pedestrian zone near our school and neighboring buildings, was hanging in the air for some time already. As we walk to school every day, we can see which changes our neighborhood require; we can see that people, especially kids, are in danger of being run over all the time, that drivers leave their cars on the pavement instead of making space for pedestrians. So when Your Ideas Your Initiatives came up, it encouraged us to think about this a bit more. This is how we decided to create our project of a pedestrian zone and a parking lot near our school. For this we conducted an analysis of the district’s needs and did research needed for finding an appropriate place for parking.
First of all, we thought of a pedestrian zone as of possibility to create a new entrance and walking lanes on the school territory. For that we wanted to use a free space along the fence that encloses the school building and goes around the workshop dwelling. This would not only provide safety for children and others but also would change the nearby traffic situation. With the creation of footpaths, the kids could avoid the danger of going along the road.
A second and more important idea of ours was to create a parking lot at a neglected playground in the neighboring yard. This would help to discharge the traffic in the area, give convenient places for parking and, obviously, leave space on the pavement for pedestrians, as well as eliminate the use of inappropriate parking spaces like flower-beds or lawns.
At first, we considered the possibility of going further and creating a bigger project encompassing the whole city. We discarded this idea very quickly though. Assuming our project would appeal to people from the neighborhood and consequently would lead to the district and later to the city authorities, we figured that it should be very solid. That is why, for the moment, we are trying to implement our ideas in our area. The latter would become possible only if others think the same way. So, one of our ideas was also to make people (peers and their parents) aware of our project and raise the question of its relevance, which definitely has a place.
Even now, as you can see, this project touches on a wide variety of activities, for instance: road safety, actors of prevention, the future of cities and, of course, street safety and safety for all. If some of these are more or less achievable at the moment, some still are out of our reach as they are related to city development in general, and this never was an easy subject.
Therefore, we think that our project has a solid basis and is forward-looking and promising and we hope that we will be able to achieve our goal of making our neighborhood a safer place to live. We tried to make it clear and easy to realize from the point of view of the initiatives undertaken.
Taking into account our idea of creating pedestrian zones around our school by remodeling a neighboring abandoned playground into a parking lot, we elaborated a list of activities that would help us to make this real. The beginning of everything was, obviously, a road code awareness campaign, i.e. a number of activities that had as an objective an assessment of children’s knowledge of the traffic code. There was a short quiz made and several poster sections in school. This we organized along with two other students from our school, who also have taken part in the Your Ideas Your Initiatives project. The campaign ushered people to being more careful on the road and knowing their rights in the road traffic system. That was the first step to implementing our ideas, which lead to the next one – discussing the subject with our classmates and peers. It was important to do because road safety is tightly connected with spaces meant for walking, driving and parking cars.
After the presentation we all decided that asking our parents about their opinion concerning our initiative would be a good thing, as they are among those who come to school driving a car (most of the parents of younger students take their children to school). Around 80 people gave us their feedback, which was mostly in favor of our project. There were some people though who expressed uncertainty about whether this wouldn’t create any more trouble for drivers and pedestrians. The poll was unofficial so the exact number of people who participated is not indicated. However, we have thought of creating Facebook and VKontakte pages for our project where people will be able to vote for or against development of the project in commentaries. Through social media we will reach more people not only for realization of the project, but also for publicizing its existence.
We were surprised with the number of people that came and wanted to be engaged in our project. It proved that lots of youngsters are thoughtful and ready to bring changes to their community. As the circle of involved widened, we thought that the next logical step would be to present our ideas to the principal and administration of the school. We did so, and after some constructive debate got the green light to show it to our district authorities and investors who care about the area.
The last point is still under development though, as making an appointment with high representatives is difficult due to them being busy and our project is not a number one strategic change that could be made in the neighborhood. Although now we have some parents who support our project and are willing to move forward with it, which could be helpful when it comes to resources and planning its realization. After dealing with all the organizational questions, we are now looking forward. We feel a responsibility as community members and are ready to take action.
All in all we managed to involve lots of people in our project and to raise awareness around the subjects of road safety and especially sustainable mobility. Hopefully, we will be able to get a positive answer from the authorities, and pupils along with other people will get the chance to move more easily around the neighborhood.