Street Design saves lives

Addis Abeba, Ethiopia ,2016

In 2014, the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) was launched, committing $125 M and technical assistance over 5 years (2015-2019) to 10 cities.

One of them was Addis Ababa, which with a modal split of only 4% car (the rest being 26% public transport and 70% pedestrian), had worrying numbers in terms of traffic accidents.

In 2016 alone, there were:
– 448 deaths (80% being pedestrians)
– 1912 people seriously injured
-1201 people slightly injured

Street design was car-centric, prioritising speed over pedestrian safety. On the one hand, the roadway was very wide and disorganised, with lane misalignment and large turning radii. This contributed to traffic jams, jaywalking and speeding. On the other hand, there were no sidewalks, crossings or traffic calming measures.

In July 2016, a one-day experiment in Le Gare intersection was conducted to train local stakeholders on design strategies and metrics collection, as well as to raise public awareness.

Later in December, a 6-month, 2000 m2 long experiment was implemented, involving more than 100 people, 750 litres of paint and 120 planters and bollards:
– Crossing distances were reduced (from 50 m to a series of shorter crossings of 6.5-9.5 m linked by refuge islands)
– The turning radii were reduced to 6.5 m, reducing average turning speed from an average of 30 km/h to 18.5 km/h, while still allowing for articulated buses to turn smoothly.

The experiment, that cost less than 400,000 ETB, served to reclaim underutilised space, increased road safety and user satisfaction (70%), and improved pedestrian crosswalk compliance.

In addition, The Safe Intersections Program (SIP) emerged this and the transformation in Le Gare became permanent.

Photos by: @nactocities, @bloombergcities

Do you want to see your experiment featured in our collection?
Send us and email to