Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winning cities and countries selected to participate in a new phase of the foundation’s Global Road Safety Initiative, which aims to reduce fatalities and injuries from road traffic crashes. With a new commitment of $125 million over five years, the program will work at both the national level to strengthen road safety legislation and the city level implementing proven road safety interventions. Twenty invited cities participated in the competition with ten cities and five countries selected as official participants in the program. Bogotá, Colombia was selected as one of the ten cities to win the award, which includes:
- Senior-level, full-time staff to work within city governments on their road safety initiatives for up to 5 years
- Comprehensive technical assistance from the world’s leading road safety organizations
- Training for police officers and other relevant city staff
- Support to create hard-hitting mass media campaigns
“We can prevent millions of road traffic fatalities and injuries through stronger laws, more effective enforcement and better infrastructure. The 10 cities selected to participate in our next five-year road safety program have demonstrated a commitment to this work, and we are excited to support them,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City. “Road traffic deaths will become increasingly common in the years ahead, unless we take decisive action now to prevent them.”
The proposals that cities submitted detailed how they plan to address road safety by applying solutions to a number of challenges including improving pedestrian and cyclist safety, increasing awareness through graphic media campaigns and increasing police enforcement to combat drinking and driving and speeding as well as encouraging the use of motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints. Infrastructure solutions such as widened sidewalks and improved pedestrian crossings are also included in the cities’ proposals.
Finance Colombia was able to discuss the award with Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health program lead, to better understand what the award means for Colombia’s capital.
FC: What was it that Bogotá presented in order to win inclusion in the ten cities receiving technical support?
Dr. Kelly Henning: Bogota was one of twenty cities invited by Bloomberg Philanthropies to submit an application to participate in the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety. Bogota’s application included thorough responses and innovative ideas for improving road safety. Bogota also clearly demonstrated strong political will to make road safety a priority, including commitment from the city’s central government, the transport agency, and traffic police – all critical partners needed to make road safety a success.
FC: Bogotá was recently voted the Colombian city with the highest level of dissatisfaction regarding urban mobility. How can this award help change that?
Dr. Kelly Henning: We know that some of the dissatisfaction comes from traffic congestion and overall long term, and short term safety concerns. To that end, the Bloomberg award in global road safety is designed to assist reduce the number of deaths on the road in Bogota. We do that through technical assistance and targeted investments. One key element of reducing road related deaths and injuries are to shift travel toward sustainable modes of urban transportation. Getting people out of private vehicles and into public transportation is important for reducing the injuries, deaths and diseases associated with traffic crashes, carbon emissions, and physical inactivity. To make that a reality for citizens, Bogota will receive technical support from some of the world’s leading experts on urban mobility, including WRI/ EMBARQ and the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility, and others. With support and partnership with these groups, Bogota’s government can make strategic investments and improvements in the city’s urban transport systems to increase user satisfaction as well as reduce injuries and deaths on the city’s roads.
FC: Bogotá is in the process of requesting proposals to construct a subway system. Will this award in any way facilitate that process or impinge upon those goals?
Dr. Kelly Henning: While Bogota was chosen to participate in the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety, our foundation will not financially support the construction of a subway system. Our partner agencies will, however, provide advice and inputs to Bogota on how to effectively integrate a subway system into its urban mobility plan in a safe and sustainable way.
FC: Colombia has strict drunk-driving laws, and helmets are mandatory on motorcycles. Bogotá has extensive bicycle lanes, but pedestrians complain that the bicyclists are as much of a danger as motorists. How can the Global Road Safety Initiative make the streets—and sidewalks safer for all in Bogotá?
Dr. Kelly Henning: A large focus of the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety is to make cities safe for all road users, especially pedestrians. In cities like Bogota where there are bicycle lanes, our partner agencies will provide technical advice on how to balance the prioritization of pedestrians and bicyclists with infrastructure and signaling improvements.