Making KL streets safer for kids


A parent using a reverse periscope to experience the view from their children’s perspective, in front of SMK Danau Kota and SK Danau Kota 2.

TO SUPPORT Malaysia’s road safety goals for children, the first phase of a school-street transformation project has been carried out for two schools in Jalan Genting Klang, Kuala Lumpur.

It was conducted by the Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI), a partner under the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), in collaboration with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

Before redesigning streets, the GDCI team engaged with students, parents and teachers from the schools, ensuring their voices were included in participatory activities which will be fed into the street transformation design and implementation.

From July 18 to 26, children and their caregivers from SK Danau Kota 2 and SMK Danau Kota participated in several activities aimed at getting them to re-imagine their streets and express their preferences.

Around 60 students drew and designed their streets on paper, using puzzle pieces to depict trees and playgrounds.

The students also exchanged letters with their peers in Chile where GDCI is conducting similar exercises with schoolchildren.

These letters capture the students’ experiences while walking to and from school, their ideas for making walking to school safer and more enjoyable, and how they would re-imagine the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Caregivers also participated in activities designed to help them see the city from a child’s perspective.

Using a reverse periscope, the caregivers were able to see the world from 95cm, the average height of a three-year-old, they were able to understand the challenges faced by children when crossing roads, their exposure to car exhaust, broken footpaths and a lack of safe infrastructure around schools.

By realising the needs and perspectives of young children, GDCI can incorporate their needs as well as design and create safe streets for them.

“With children risking their lives each day as they make their way to school and back home, it is important that we make these journeys safer and more enjoyable for them,” said GDCI programme manager Jashwanth Tej K.

“By enhancing their walking experience, we not only contribute to their health and well-being, but can also build in opportunities for developing their cognitive and motor skills,” added Jashwanth Tej K, who conducted the school engagement.

GDCI executive director Skye Duncan said, “We have an incredible opportunity to re-imagine and redesign these spaces to better serve so many more people and functions than they do today.”

“If you design a street that works for children, you’ve designed a street that works for everyone,” said GDCI chair Janette Sadik-Khan.

GDCI will further support city councils in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, by launching the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Global Street Design Guide later this year.

GDCI will also provide training for traffic police and journalists who play roles in enforcement and spurring public behaviour change.

Malaysia has the third highest road traffic mortality rate in the World Health Organisation’s Western-Pacific region.

The most vulnerable group of road users are children.

Road traffic injuries account for 14% of deaths among children aged five to 14 in Malaysia, making it the leading cause of child mortality in the country.

Malaysia is committed to achieving at least a 50% reduction in road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030, as outlined in Malaysia’s Road Safety Plan 2022-2030.

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