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15 May 2021, 10:14

WHO calls for 50km/h speed limits in Belarusian cities

MINSK, 15 May (BelTA) - The 6th UN Global Traffic Safety Week will be running through 17-23 May. The main message of the Week for Belarus is a call to reduce speed limits in cities to at least 50 km/h, Valentin Rusovich, Coordinator of Public Health Programs of the WHO Country Office in Belarus, told BelTA.

Every year, about 1.35 million people die in traffic accidents. Another 20 to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries, many of them become disabled.

“The main message of the campaign of the 6th UN Global Traffic Safety Week in relation to Belarus is a call for urgent speed limits in cities to at least 50 km/h recommended by the WHO. The WHO's goal is to deliver 30km/h speed limits in urban areas, except for specially designated sections. The effort is also to gradually return the allocation of designated bicycle lanes on the carriageway of city streets, the use of the bicycle as a complete means of transport with universal accessibility to any point in the city at any time of the year.

The World Health Organization recommends Belarus to reduce speed limits in cities from the current 60 km/h to 50 km/h, as practiced in all European Union countries, and also in Ukraine from 2018. “Speed has been identified as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries, influencing both the risk of a road crash as well as the severity of the injuries that result from crashes. According to the WHO, an increase in average speed of 1 km/h typically results in a 4–5% increase for crashes that result in fatalities. Of more than 500 deaths per year (or more than 800 deaths, according to the WHO, which include those who die within 30 days of an accident), half of the deaths on the roads of Belarus are pedestrians and cyclists, many of whom die on the streets in cities.

The main message of the UN Global Safety Week campaign is the recommendation for all countries to further reduce speed limits in cities - down to 30 km/h. Therefore, the recommendation for Belarus is only the first step in dealing with the speed limit.

The WHO also emphasizes the positive effects of using the bicycle as a complete means of transport in urban infrastructure: it is the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and a protective factor in the prevention of mental disorders (depression), and reduction of noise and air pollution.

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