Faded zebra crossings a cause for concern

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

May 6, 2017-When Suresh Thapa, a student at St Xavier’s College, was stopped by a traffic cop at Maitighar recently, he was caught off guard. The traffic cop then told him about traffic rules and asked him to use zebra crossings while crossing the road.

Traffic police are currently running awareness campaigns about traffic rules and urging pedestrians to use pedestrian crosswalks. May 15 onwards, traffic police have said they will enforce traffic rules for pedestrians strictly and jaywalkers will be fined.

However, there is a catch.

Kathmandu roads lack sufficient pedestrian crosswalks and zebra crossings and footpaths. At many places, crosswalks for pedestrians have faded so much so that they are almost invisible.

In Thapa’s case, when he was stopped, he was trying to cross the street near Bhadrakali. “There was no zebra crossing nearby,” he said. There is one zebra crossing in front of Thapathali Campus, but all the white marks are faded there.

According to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD), pedestrians account for 40 percent of road accidents that are fatal.

“The MTPD drive to enforce traffic rules for pedestrians may be a good move, but should not they first get proper pavements to walk and zebra crossings to cross the road?” a pedestrian wondered when asked about the traffic police plan to fine jaywalkers.

Some of the places that are lacking (or have faded) zebra crossings are Tinkune, Chabahil, Kalanki and Koteshwor, probably the busiest thoroughfares in the Capital.  

According to the MTPD, there are zebra crossings at 107 places in the Capital. But over 50 percent of them are faded and not visible.

Pedestrian safety is a major concern, but fining people for crossing the roads may not be a good option, some say.

Town planners argue that increasing the number of overhead bridges can be the best option to ensure pedestrian safety.

Even if there are zebra crossings, they do not ensure pedestrian safety, as motorists and bikers in Kathmandu need to be made more aware, as pedestrians have the right-of-way at controlled intersections and marked crosswalks.

Last month, a former government secretary was hit by a two-wheeler at Anamanagar while he was crossing the road through a zebra crossing. He died. Last year, a student was hit by a public vehicle while crossing the road in Tinkune.

But until overhead bridges are added in the Capital, pedestrians must be encouraged to zebra crossings, experts say. There are only eight overhead bridges in

the Capital.

As far as faded zebra crossings are concerned, Lokendra Malla, spokesperson for the MTPD, said his office has already requested the Department of Roads to paint white marks. “The DoR has agreed to paint white marks before we enforce the rules,” said Malla, stressing the need of overhead bridges at major thoroughfares like Baneshwor and Thapathali.

Published: 06-05-2017 07:59

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