Pedestrian safety on the expressway

A  pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run incident on the expressway this week.

This is not the first death to occur on this road.

Earlier, a woman was killed in front of the Hyundai show room in another hit-and-run.

These tragedies could have been avoided.

The thromde is building a walkway for pedestrians and cyclists along both sides of the expressway. Once completed, it should separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic and significantly lower the risk of accidents.

But pedestrian and vehicle traffic will still have to interact at several points on the expressway.

Many measures have been tried to discourage pedestrians from crossing the expressway.

First there was the infamous double lined green mesh, with plants in between. The fence failed to stop anyone from passing through and the plants became fodder for cattle. It was removed.

A higher concrete divider was considered and partially implemented.

Speed bumps that double as zebra crossings were constructed.

But then it was decided that the expressway, now a highway with the speed bumps, would be reverted back to an expressway. The speed bumps would have to be removed and possibly replaced with underpasses.

Meanwhile, hedge saplings have been planted and once fully grown, are expected to form a barrier to discourage jaywalkers.

What we can learn from this expensive saga is that safety of pedestrians has still not been ensured.

As pedestrians, we’re all expected to cross zebra crossings. But when an area that is frequently crossed lacks a zebra crossing, like where the recent tragic hit-and-run occurred, there is a need for more zebra crossings.

Perhaps, there is also a need to introduce button operated pedestrian crossing lights to get vehicles to stop.

There is also a need to educate drivers to slow down as they approach zebra crossings. A 10-year old girl was hit by a vehicle even as she was on a zebra crossing near Changlimithang recently. The girl suffered a leg fracture. It could have been worse.

To get a driving license today, drivers should be equally tested on such habits like slowing down as they approach crossings.

Pedestrians also need to be aware of not abruptly moving onto a crossing.

Sustained enforcement by authorities to bring about these habitual changes is clearly needed. Pedestrians must be required to use zebra crossings, but only when there are enough of the crossings available.

Safety for pedestrians on the expressway, and for that matter, on all roads, has to be improved. It’s our right to safety.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    There is another news post in this edition with the headings…”USD 4.6M for the Improvement of City Roads”. Urban development is rather incomplete without good roads for traffic. The Expressway that has got discussed about for so many of the wrong reasons was also part of a road development project once. Had there not been an Expressway, one could have easily imagined the traffic woes at present time without it in place.

    But the wider and better our urban roads get, the more difficult and time consuming it becomes for the pedestrians to cross it. So we need a proper system in place so that vehicles can ply safely along with pedestrians getting to cross the roads unharmed.

    Measures have been tried out and implemented and yet; none has proved tried and tested so far. It’s difficult to change our behaviours, but it’s much easier to be careful and be attentive while crossing a road. Same can be said about those who are driving the vehicles or riding the bikes.

    Or, one may come up with suggestions like installing gates like the ones we find at the railway crossings and pedestrians can cross like trains when the zebra crossings are closed for the traffic. If this sounds a bit stupid, there can always be the underpasses. But problems with some existing underpasses have been discussed only a few days back in another news post. In that case, we will be left with one obvious solution in the form of overhead pedestrian bridges and plenty of them will be needed.

    But the challenge doesn’t end there alone. The planners need to wait till the vehicular traffic flow reaches a level where funding for such pedestrian bridges become a fit case for any future feasibility studies. Till then, it’s probably about being motivated with new measures and also being aware of road safety, gaps and the holes in place. Solutions should fall in place filling in the gaps in due course of time. In the meantime, it’s our duty to drive and ride safely for other’s safety as well.

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