Students of a small Bulgarian town realized the surroundings of their school were not safe and they demanded to the mayor some improvements in order to reduce risks: pedestrian paths, speed limits and the prohibition to park in front of the school.
The students began by agreeing on the idea of devising a survey. The work team formulated the questions, produced copies and disseminated the survey among peers, who were asked to define the most critical risks on the road. The data collected by the students proved very alarming: 69% of participating students believed that general society does not respect the traffic rules, and that there are insufficient markings, signs and bike lanes. 60% had never tried to get to school by bicycle, because they felt that it would not be safe and 57.5% didn’t feel safe on the roads when traveling to school and back. Based on their findings, students concluded that road safety issues are mainly due to a lack of pedestrian crossings, markings, road signs and bike lanes. The students also criticized the tendency to park on the sidewalk and that the culture of drivers, riders and pedestrians who do not respect the rules on the road. The survey results were indicative that the traffic environment around the school should be improved. The students concluded that solving this and other road vital safety issues could only be possible if companies, public institutions and citizens act together.
In light of the survey results, the team decided to take immediate action to improve the traffic environment around the school area. An action plan was created. The students organized a meeting with a representative from the local police force in order to determine his point of view. Taking his advice into account, the team wrote a letter containing recommendations for the municipality, which led to the students being invited to a special meeting with the Mayor. They requested the implementation of two pedestrian paths on the streets around the school and also proposed that parking be prohibited on the sidewalks, and speed limit signs placed around the school. The team worked exceptionally hard to share good practices and suggestions with a wider audience and encourage community members to follow their example. To achieve this, they created a website explaining their ideas and initiatives. The team received numerous letters of support from various Bulgarian celebrities, and from organizations related to road safety. To further disseminate the project, the team enlisted the help of the media. Three newspapers took an interest in the initiative and wrote articles about it: АZ BUki – Bulgaria’s national weekly newspaper for education and science, the Klassa daily newspaper, and the Good Housewife journal. Great importance was also given to new technologies. Besides the website, the students also created a video that reveals their experiences with the project and their efforts to improve road safety.