Lack of zebra crossings at certain areas may call for a need to revisit the plan

Traffic: A corporate employee, Tenzin Wangchuk, is stuck at the Chubachu roundabout. There is no zebra crossing to get to the other side of the road for him to walk towards Bhutan Telecom.

With vehicles plying from all directions and no area for pedestrians to cross over, Tenzin makes a detour through the crafts bazar, along the Royal Textile Academy footpath.

Although equipped with 70 zebra crossings, drivers and pedestrians in the city are still confused while crossing roads in certain areas.

A similar situation was observed along the Norzin Lam, in front of RICBL office and along the Chang Lam, near the RBP city office where no zebra crossings have been drawn.

However, a new zebra crossing near the works and human settlement ministry and the RBP city office was drawn yesterday.

A civil servant, Kinzang Dema, who had parked her car opposite the RICBL office, said it’s inconvenient walking all the way to the zebra crossing just to walk back to the office. “We could just cross it but it’s embarrassing when the policeman calls you back when we’re almost there.”

The issue is not just faced by pedestrians. Drivers have to be extra careful while driving across these areas. A taxi driver, Karma Phuntsho, said when pedestrians try to cross the road suddenly, their act puts everyone in danger. “They confuse us. They appear to cross but they don’t and when we assume they won’t cross, they just do the opposite. This is risky to all of us.”

Assistant engineer with the thromde, Ugyen Lhamo said marking a zebra crossing at the Chubachu junction was not possible. “The junction is a very complex area for a zebra crossing,” she said. “We don’t have traffic experts and engineers in the country, whatever we have done so far is all based on our past experiences.”

However, Ugyen Lhamo, said a tri-party committee from the thromde, Road Safety and Transport Authority and the RBP’s traffic division will soon discuss on plans to mark zebra crossings at the junctions for the convenience of pedestrians.

She said that as of now apart from the core areas, the priority while marking the zebra crossings were focussed on schools that are connected directly to the main road. She added the zebra crossings in front of the work and human settlement office and the RBP’s city branch were left undone previously.

Thimphu thrompon, Kinlay Dorjee, said zebra crossings were placed in accordance with the traffic flow. “Zebra crossings were marked for the convenience of pedestrians and drivers,” he said. “Placing too many zebra crossing would create more traffic congestions.”

He said if the public felt the need for some more zebra crossings, they have to formally put up a proposal to the thromde office. “We want to make Thimphu a pedestrian friendly city where they don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car while walking,” Kinlay Dorjee said.

He said feasibility studies  on the need for zebra crossings would be done. There are 22 zebra crossings at the expressway, which covers both the lanes. At 15, Norzin Lam has the second highest zebra crossings followed by 13 at Chang Lam.

Younten Tshedup