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How to promote road safety? Professor runs 30 marathons for a 30km/h speed limit

  • Europe
  • Road safety
30 marathons in 30 months

A campaign for road safety

Written by George Yannis

Road crashes are a major societal problem worldwide, with 1.35 million road fatalities per year and more than 50 million of road injuries. In fact, speeding is the number one cause of road crashes worldwide, especially in cities where pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are highly exposed and vulnerable in case of a collision.

“After over 30 years of dedication to road safety science and several marathon races, I decided to combine both passions for a cause: to run 30 marathons in 30 months in order to actively promote the adoption of 30km/h speed limit in as many cities as possible worldwide, as a key policy for safer, healthier and greener cities.”
George Yannis
Professor at National Technical University of Athens, International Road Safety and Transportation Expert

Scientists urge continuously for lower speeds worldwide, however speeding remains a common behaviour; sometimes even promoted or largely tolerated by society, authorities, and the industry. In contrast, the voices of vulnerable road users to reduce speeding remain weak against our long-established car and speed-centred societies.

Lately, some city authorities have started to understand the fatal role of speeding in city streets and are implementing policies of lower speeds. This is often done through the adoption of smaller or larger zones with a speed limit of 30km/h (or 20 miles per hour). In some cases, these zones cover the whole city such as in Brussels, Belgium.

Scientific evidence so far demonstrates 40% more lives have been saved thanks to the introduction of 30km/h zones. That’s in addition to significantly positive environmental, energy, and health impacts with lower fuel consumption and more walking and cycling.

The discussion and introduction of 30km/h city zones faces strong reactions and rigid inertia. On the other hand, supporters’ voices are weaker and inefficient, resulting in hesitant politicians and authorities. That is the reason why I decided to step beyond the continuous scientific pleas and promote more actively the 30km/h city through my challenge of 30 marathons in 30 months.

“This challenge is not an easy one for me at my age, but I am convinced that it fully worth to try it and support as loud as possible the new paradigm of safer, healthier and greener cities through the 30 km/h zones. The sooner they are adopted the more lives are saved and this is the highest compensation for my cause.”

I am doing my best to mobilise society, authorities, the industry and everyone involved in the decision making process to change the current speed-oriented patterns of city transport towards safe, healthy, and green mobility everywhere and for all.

Starting with our globally recognised research group, the NTUA Road Safety Observatory and the wide network of our worldwide cooperations, we ally with everyone who wishes to make the voice of 30km/h Cities as strong as possible, as soon as possible. We cooperate closely with UITP as a frontrunner in promoting public transport as a key policy to achieve safer mobility.

Discover more about the campaign on George’s website.

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