This episode of WRI’s “Big Ideas Into Action” podcast examines why and how to make roads safer.

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Can a city where pedestrians, cyclists and children get injured or killed on the roads be a truly sustainable one? Given the rapid urbanization of the world’s population, road safety is a critical development and sustainability issue. This episode of WRI’s “Big Ideas Into Action” podcast examines why and how to make roads safer.

Over 1 million people are killed in traffic crashes each year. They are the biggest killer of children and young adults aged between 5 and 24. Their impact, especially in poorer communities, can be devastating. In the podcast, we hear from Ethiopian builder Habtamu Zerihun, who lost his job and fell into poverty after a severe injury from a collision in 2016.

WRI experts working in Turkey, Africa and Colombia discuss their work and the impact it has on road safety. We also hear from WRI’s Director of Health and Road Safety, who explains why sustainable cities must have safe roads for everyone to use.

Highlights from the Episode

“The traffic accident was in May 2016. I tried to get up, but couldn’t. My legs were smashed. I cried more than I had ever cried. I thought my children were going to lose their father. People talk of illnesses like HIV but they are gradual. Traffic accidents are sudden, like cutting the head off a flower.”

Habtamu Zerihun, builder and road collision victim, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


“We need to have more people walking and cycling. But if it is very dangerous for them, they will not be able to do it. So we have to think about road safety as this enabler that can make cities more sustainable, that can make them more livable.”

Claudia Adriazola-Steil , Director of Health and Road Safety, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities


“The issue of road safety is particularly important for low- and middle-income countries, where fatal and serious crashes are a problem. The roads are essential to development because they connect the families, health centers and markets. So supporting road safety has to be part of the global development challenge.”

Tolga Imamoglu , WRI Transport and Road Safety Manager, Istanbul, Turkey


“The main challenge we have with road safety in Colombia is to change the mindset. Most people don’t find it to be a problem, even though most people know somebody who has died or been in a car or bike accident.”

Jessica Kisner , WRI Road Safety Coordinator, Bogota, Colombia


“I think the big mistake, not only in Colombia and Latin America but in the Global South, is that we think about urban development and mobility as things that are completely different. We need to create cities that are more dense, more compact, more clean, connected. And these things, in urban development design, impact the way that people move in the city.”

Hector Donado, WRI Research Analyst, Mexico


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