Late at night, Aibek Baratov is driving around Kyrgyzstan’s poorly lit capital testing his latest project. Tired of hearing about pedestrian deaths, and frustrated with a lack of interest among Bishkek city officials to address the hazard, the activist took matters into his own hands and installed reflective signs marking crosswalks.
“This is a problem that bothers me personally, and as it turned out, it bothers a lot of other people, too,” he explained. “Every day each one of us goes to school or work and we face such rudeness on the streets.”
“When I try to cross the road, and cars almost drive over my toes, it irritates me a lot,” he added.
Baratov, 31, has thousands of active online supporters, and he has gained something of a cult following in Bishkek in recent years. It all started in 2009, when he began posting videos of traffic violations, by drivers and police, on his Facebook page.
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Asel Kalybekova is a freelance reporter based in Kyrgyzstan.