Encouraging young people to start using bikes on their way to school as well as raising awareness among young drivers about risk and responsible behaviours were two main reasons to start our project. During our campaign we have made two videos, designed some web posters and digital comics, designed a board game, identified critical bike lane points in the city, written a letter of protest to the city mayor, invited a local Car Club to present simulators to our students, organized a Cycling Day and started a Facebook community to spread the message about our project. Many students have liked our Facebook page where we have presented our most attractive visual materials in order to make an impact on the local community.
At first we organized an initial meeting where students brainstormed their ideas about our project. Since Varaždin is known as the city of bikes, we have decided to focus on using bikes on the way to school as one of the most important means of sustainable transport. Furthermore, students in their final year expressed the need to work on the topic of young drivers in order to give them more opportunities to educate themselves on road safety, risk behaviors, responsible behaviors and prevention agents.
After that we decided to conduct a survey where we interviewed 675 students at our school. In our survey we looked for particular information regarding both topics - cycling and young drivers. We wanted to know how many students cycle to school and wear a helmet. In addition, we also wanted to know how many students own a driving license, how many use their mobile phones while driving and how many fasten their seat belts.
The results have shown that only a few students (10%) use bikes as a form of transport in order to get to school. Since bikes are one of the most important sustainable means of transport, our project focused on trying to promote cycling in our local community.
An alarming result of the survey was that 0% of our students wear a helmet for protection while cycling so we also decided to campaign on trying to prevent this risk behaviour and implement a responsible behaviour of wearing a helmet.
Furthermore, we have also noticed that bike lanes on the way to school are insufficient and inadequate (we have taken photos of these critical points). The problem with bike lanes was that they were either missing or they suddenly stopped in the middle of the road.
Raising awareness among young drivers about risk behaviours was another issue we focused on. Most of our final year students own a driving license (32%). Since they are very young and inexperienced, we felt the need to educate them on road safety, risk and responsible behaviours and prevention agents. The survey results have shown that 36 % of them use their mobile phones while driving so that was one of the risk behaviours we had to work on. Fortunately, 79 % of them fasten a seat belt so that didn't prove to be a major risk behaviour among our students.
Further Internet research has shown that 20% of all traffic accidents in Croatia are caused by young drivers. Major causes are risk behaviours like alcohol, speeding or using mobile phones. Moreover, one fifth of all traffic accident victims in Croatia are killed by young drivers. Finally, 57% of young drivers have caused a traffic accident once in their life.
In conclusion, we have decided to act on two areas: the promotion of cycling to school and wearing bike helmets as well as responsible behaviours among young drivers.
In order to promote using bikes and wearing bike helmets among our students and all other people in our community, we launched a campaign by making web posters and filming a promotional video which were posted on our Facebook web page. After that we also designed some digital comics on the topic of cycling and wearing helmets.
After having identified critical bike lane points in our city, we wrote a letter of protest to the city mayor asking him to take action in order to improve the bike lane system so that cyclists can ride to school safely. We attached a few photos in order to present some evidence.
On 10th May 2019 we organized a Cycling Day when students were able to take part in a bike tour which was 36 km long. This tour, which was accompanied by the police, was joined by 38 students and 5 teachers. The aim of this bike tour was to stress the importance of cycling since it bring various benefits for human health and it helps reduce air pollution in cities.
Our target group were young people: both cyclists and young drivers in our community. Consequently, another focal point of our project were young drivers. In order to raise awareness of the dangers of risk behaviours like alcohol, speeding or using mobile phones while driving, we filmed a video and designed some web posters and comics.
In addition, we have asked a local Car Club to give young drivers a lecture on street safety and to present two simulators to young drivers - a rollover simulator and a braking simulator. All young drivers were able to try them out. After this experience 90 % of them said that they would drive more carefully in the future.
Furthermore, we have also designed a board game in order to promote responsible behaviours and reduce risk behaviours among young drivers. We printed it out and all teachers of English at our school were given the board game in order to play it with their students in their English classes. Afterwards they reported that students had really enjoyed playing the game because it was both fun and educational.
All the information about our project and most of the materials produced during the project were made public in our Facebook community. We have chosen social media to spread our message across the local community because it is the most effective way to launch a campaign among young people. The link to our Facebook page was also posted on the web pages of our school so that all our students were able to like and share our promotional materials (videos, comics, web posters, photos…). Soon there was a positive feedback from our community. Young people started liking, following and sharing our materials as well as making comments. We hope we have made an impact and started to make a difference.