Making Bucharest’s streets safer for children

Small steps.

Having witnessed – for the umpteenth time – yet another near miss involving a dickhead driver and small children, the amazing Mrs. Bucharest Life yesterday decided to try and make one tiny part of Bucharest safer for children. As such, she has started a campaign to have traffic lights installed at the intersection of Bulevardul Marasesti and Strada Cuza Voda. This intersection:

intersection-1

intersection-2

The dickhead driver of the orange jeep thought it would be nice to provide the children of School 79 with another obstacle
The dickhead driver of the orange jeep thought it would be nice to provide the children of School 79 with another obstacle

Currently, children going to or coming from School 79 on Strada Cuza Voda have to use a simple, poorly marked pedestrian crossing, which – as anyone who has tried to use a pedestrian crossing in Bucharest will know – is not easy. Drivers – usually coming at great speed from the Bulevardul Dimitrie Cantemir/Marasesti intesection 300 metres or so away (itself the scene of the most accidents in the whole of Sector 4, we understand) rarely stop at the pedestrian crossing: even if there are children waiting to cross. (And when they do stop, they usually stop on the crossing). Worse, many impatient drivers pull out from behind cars which have stopped in order to overtake on the crossing, not giving any thought to the fact that the car in front might have stopped because, erm, there are children crossing. This is when accidents happen. Given that the delightful drivers of Bucharest are not likely to change their habits, the only way to prevent further incidents is to install traffic lights at the intersection so that cars are forced to stop. That is what we are now trying to achieve.

The first thing we did was to contact the local police: Sectia 14 is right next to School 79. Though they said they did not deal with such things, they did say who does – the Brigada Rutiera Bucuresti (Bucharest Traffic Police) – and provided the telephone number.

When we contacted the Brigada Rutiera they were polite and helpful, and explained the procedure. Firstly, we need to prepare a formal application stating our motives. This we will do, backed up with a petition including the signatures of as many parents at the school as possible. The application will be presented to the Brigada Rutiera and the Administratia Drumirilor, before being passed on to the local council, who will have to approve it. Once approved, a tender is held and the work carried out. All very easy in theory: we will see how it pans out, and keep you posted. It is worth noting however that the Brigada Rutiera were reassuring in their assertion that there is no reason it cannot be done, although they were just as keen to point out that it may take a while.

As with anything in this city we will believe it when we see it, but we are going to try our utmost to make it happen.

Meantime, if you know the intersection in question and want to sign our petition or help us out in any other way, do get in touch.

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21 thoughts on “Making Bucharest’s streets safer for children

  1. First of all Traffic Police is regulated by OUG 195/2002.

    It does not state in the law that you need to present a petition with regards to the situation that you described here. What you need to do is to invoke art 2, of OUG 195/2002 and tell the Traffic Police in writing what is the problem and that this an emergency situation.

    10. urgenţă – situaţia de criza sau de pericol potenţial major care necesită deplasarea imediată pentru prevenirea producerii unor evenimente cu consecinţe negative, pentru salvarea de vieţi omeneşti sau a integrităţii unor bunuri ori pentru limitarea afectării mediului înconjurător.

    Source: OUG 195/2002):

    Further more traffic police has the obligation to solve any of such issues as per Art 2

    ART. 2
    Îndrumarea, supravegherea şi controlul respectării normelor de circulaţie pe drumurile publice se fac de către poliţia rutieră din cadrul Inspectoratului General al Poliţiei Române, care ARE OBLIGATIA să ia măsurile legale în cazul în care constată încălcări ale acestora.

    If they refuse to take action (because they are telling you to present a petition) , you need to mention in your statement that you will reserve the right to invoke Art 297 alin.1 and Art 298 of the New Romanian Criminal Code against each and every traffic police offer who refuses to act upon his/her duty:

    Abuzul în serviciu
    (1) Fapta funcţionarului public care, în exercitarea atribuţiilor de serviciu, nu îndeplineşte un act sau îl îndeplineşte în mod defectuos şi prin aceasta cauzează o pagubă ori o vătămare a drepturilor sau intereselor legitime ale unei persoane fizice sau ale unei persoane juridice se pedepseşte cu închisoarea de la 2 la 7 ani şi interzicerea exercitării dreptului de a ocupa o funcţie publică.

    Art. 298
    Neglijenţa în serviciu
    Încălcarea din culpă de către un funcţionar public a unei îndatoriri de serviciu, prin neîndeplinirea acesteia sau prin îndeplinirea ei defectuoasă, dacă prin aceasta se cauzează o pagubă ori o vătămare a drepturilor sau intereselor legitime ale unei persoane fizice sau ale unei persoane juridice, se pedepseşte cu închisoare de la 3 luni la 3 ani sau cu amendă.

    You have to play hard ball with these guys, and make sure that they understand they are obliged by law to intervene whenever a citizen reports this (verbally or in writing) otherwise, they are committing a criminal offence!

    Let me know how this worked out!

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  2. Good article and good luck with trying to change things, but I guess it’s one of many cultural and inbred anomalies you come across when moving to a new country. Some things are better, some things are worse!

    I take it the lollipop man/women doesn’t exist in Romania then? Practically every single school in the UK has them. Could think of worse jobs and gets people into work, maybe try that angle, become a pioneer Craig!

    I guess if we sat around and did nothing, things wouldn’t change for the better!

    Although half of the bucharest police force seem to act as makeshift lollipop men in rush hour, not sure if they are an improvement on the traffic lights though?

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    1. I have thought about the Lollipop Woman/Man idea. Problem here is that not all kids finish at the same time. They come out in drips and drabs over a period of a couple of hours. It would be a full-time job and expensive to finance. Traffic lights are cheaper.

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      1. Traffic lights for one school maybe cheaper than employing lolllip men/women for the whole of Buc, but it’s not just one set of children who should be protected, it’s all of them.

        It would provide hundreds of jobs, keep kids safe, maybe educate some drivers and it’s a win win situation, what price a child’s life?

        On the different time thing, why can’t teachers become the lollipop men/women then? Incorporate it into their role, pay extra of course?

        Just tackling one schools problem isn’t fair or balanced, this should be a national issue, and why not pioneer it in bucharest?

        It works well in the UK as you will know, so why not seriously think about it? Individuals can make a difference for the benefit of all, to me it’s just common sense 😉

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      2. We will start with this school – which, after all, is where my kids go – and will take it from there. The Lollipop Lady idea is good, although getting teachers to do it is a non-starter. There are plenty of under-employed grans who would though, I am sure, and for many the opportunity to slow down and hold up traffic would be a real perk!

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      3. I would consider the opportunity to hold up traffic a real perk. There’s nothing quite like annoying a genuine, thick Bucharest driver.

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      4. Yes Craig, the average lollipop person is pension age and no reason why work can’t be created for hundreds across the city and in turn keep kids safe, educate them in road safety and maybe annoy and educate the odd angry driver too!

        As I said it’s a win win situation all round!

        I can actually see this initiative with the right driving force and support taking off!

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    1. We are. The petition is merely an addendum to the sesizare (to give it its untranslatable Romanian name) outlining the problem. It is being written by a top lawyer as I type.

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      1. A petition has no legal value, and is not recognised by law. If might have some ”sentimental” value for the petitioner, but it won’t have any legal value.

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      2. On the other hand, if you have the ”sesizare” signed by the participants as mentioned by you, it has legal value. (Such signing you mention in an addendum, not in a ”petition”)

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    2. We are taking real action. We are doing exactly what is required: delivering a sesizare – which as I said is being written by a top lawyer to ensure that all the applicable laws are referred to (probably including the ones you posted) to the competent authorities.

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  3. I know that intersection well because it’s on my way to work. Some traffic lights there would not only help increase the safety, but also help unblock the traffic at the big intersection itself (piata Budapesta) at rush hour

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  4. As a parent, things like this are stressful to even just read about. I hope you’re successful.

    The city obviously needs to provide crossing guards at every intersection (including with stoplights) within a certain radius of every school.

    It’s time to pull out the old “are you saying you won’t support safe streets for our children?” guilt trip on the city council.

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  5. Good luck with this, any such initiative is welcome. I really think it’s high time more Bucharesters took a more active approach when it comes to city matters. Perhaps, if you’re successful in this, it may prove to others that you can actually make a difference. Bureaucracy may be slow, but the more people push for change, the likelier it is that the System will take notice.

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    1. BTW, I know the intersection, but I don’t live (or work) anywhere near it. However if you think it helps, I’m willing to sign your petition.

      Like

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