11 mar 2023
After more than 30 years of dedication to road safety science and several Marathon races, I decided to combine both passions for a cause: to run 30 Marathons in 30 months in order to actively promote the adoption of 30km/h speed limit in as many cities as possible worldwide, as a key policy for safer, healthier and greener cities.
Road crashes is a major societal problem worldwide, with 1,35 million road fatalities per year and more than 50 million of road injuries. Speeding is the number one cause of road crashes worldwide, especially in cities where pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are highly exposed and vulnerable in case of a collision.
Scientists urge continuously for lower speeds worldwide, however speeding remains a model and sought behaviour among most drivers and riders, especially the young; very often promoted or largely tolerated by the society, the Authorities and the industry. The voices of vulnerable road users for less speeding remain weak towards our long-established car and speed centred societies.
Lately, some City Authorities started to understand the fatal role of speeding in city streets and attempt to implement policies of lower speeds, often through the adoption of smaller or larger zones with speed limit of 30 km/h (20 miles/hour); in some cases, covering the whole city (e.g. Europe’s capital, Brussels). Scientific evidence so far demonstrates more than 40% lives saved with the introduction of 30km/h zones; in parallel to significant positive environmental, energy and health impacts with less fuel consumption and more walking and cycling.
The discussion and introduction of 30 km/h city zones faces strong reactions and rigid inertia, whereas supporters’ voices are weak and inefficient resulting in hesitant politicians and Authorities. That is the reason why I decided to step beyond the continuous scientific pleas and promote more actively the 30 km/h city through my challenge of 30 Marathons in 30 months.
I have been running more or less systematically since my teens, always seeking progress in good health and sustainability in running joy and not in speeding and high performance associated with high probability of injury risks. Systematic and moderate running works well for me and I believe that moderate speeds at safe, healthy and green 30km/h Cities can also work very well for all city travellers.
In the coming 30 months I will focus on scientific planning and preparation, systematic effort and continuous monitoring and dedication in order to complete the 30 Marathons. Exactly the skills that are needed by any City to change and achieve steady progress towards sustainable city mobility.
This challenge is not an easy one for me at my age, but I am convinced that it fully worth to try it and support as loud as possible the new paradigm of safer, healthier and greener cities through the 30 km/h zones. The sooner they are adopted the more lives are saved and this is the highest compensation for my cause.
I will do my best to mobilise the society, the Authorities, the industry and everyone involved in the decision making process to change the current speedy patterns of city transport towards safe, healthy and green mobility everywhere and for all. Starting with our globally recognised research group, the NTUA Road Safety Observatory and the wide network of our worldwide cooperations, we will ally with everyone who wishes to make the voice of 30km/h Cities as strong as possible, as soon as possible.