When we think of road safety, most people think about things like drink driving, safety belts and speeding – but it’s much more than that. A group of students in Italy took action to make driving safer for the environment!
In the opening brainstorming sessions at Liceo Artistico “O.Licini” Ascoli Piceno, students had a lively debate on a wide range of topics…where and when do they feel safe, what does mobility mean to them, the importance of helmets and safety belts, sensitizing youth to responsible behaviors…and many more. They decided to take a unique approach to road safety, focusing on sustainable mobility to protect both people and the environment.
They concluded that due to limited resources, we have to change our behavior and start buying environmentally-friendly vehicles, and increasing our use of bicycles and walking when possible. Local authorities should prompt the use of public or alternative means of transport by funding projects to create pedestrian areas and cycling paths in and around cities. Also, using more alternative means of transport would have several advantages for the community like reduced air pollution, shorter travel times, lower maintenance costs, and no parking fares.
The students decided that the perfect place to sensitize the local community to these ideas would be around their school. Students who arrive to the school by bus – which is most of them – have to walk a distance between the bus and the school. The final part of this walk is along a busy road with neither pavement nor a protective structure. So as part of their initiative, in addition to sensitizing the community, the students would ask for a pavement or protected path to reach their school safely!
The students organized a public demonstration, to be held on 11 May 2013, asking for safe access to their school and for an extension of the existing cycling track in their city. Students and teachers marched from the school to both ends of the city cycling path, where a group of them participated in a flash mob performance of the song Bicycle Race by Queen. This event was promoted through local TV networks, radios and newspapers, which made the aim clear - to sensitize students and the whole community to road safety and sustainable mobility in order to re-think our way of life and mobility choices.
The students say the greatest success will be seen in a change in students’ mobility habits and, hopefully, a new pavement.