Riding the zebra

Beginning October, pedestrians who do not use a Zebra crossing will be fined in Thimphu city.

This is to be expected with Thimphu city’s motor and pedestrian traffic expanding while the infrastructure struggles to keep up.

More order is needed on Thimphu’s roads and footpaths.

But before making jay walking a punishable offence an adequate number of zebra crossings have to be made available to pedestrians.

We’re seeing more zebra crossings on our roads. We also see mistakes being corrected like zebra crossings being moved further back from the main traffic roundabout on Norzin lam.

We’re moving in the right direction. And we need to keep moving in this direction.

Many more zebra crossings are needed on Thimphu’s roads, especially on the expressway.

It is essential that the thromde, the Road Safety Transport Authority, and the police, work together to determine where zebra crossings are needed and where they would not impede motor traffic.

It would also be a good idea to get public feedback or to observe pedestrian flow to find the best places to have zebra crossings.

There is also a need for the thromde to begin building overhead pedestrian bridges. Some areas like the main traffic junction on Norzin lam become congested as a result of the zebra crossings. Pedestrian bridges there would solve the problem. Other areas like below the memorial choeten, the fuel pump area located next to the police headquarters, and the junction above the Taj hotel, are also areas where overhead bridges would serve better than zebra crossings.

Zebra crossings should also be a well lit area. For instance, it is not easy to see pedestrians about to cross a zebra crossing on the Royal Boulevard given the headlights of oncoming vehicles during the night. Either better lighting or pedestrian stop lights could be installed.

The police are doing a fine job instilling a zebra crossing culture among both drivers and pedestrians. It is our responsibility to also make our family and friends aware of the rules.

It is a welcome sight to see more vehicles slowing down and stopping for pedestrians today. Besides the higher safety factor, it also reflects a more modern culture.

Once enough zebra crossings and overhead bridges are in place, and enough awareness has been raised, it is important that the system continue to be worked on and perfected. Violators, both pedestrians and drivers, should be penalised if they don’t follow the rules otherwise we risk wasting another effort.

Once successful in Thimphu, other dzongkhags should follow suit.

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