WITH or without traffic lights, the moment a pedestrian steps onto a zebra crossing, the oncoming motorists has to stop.
“Pedestrians always have the right of way,” said DBKL civil engineering and urban transportation senior deputy director Abd Hamid Surip.
Commenting on the issue of pedestrian crossings, Abd Hamid said there were now some 600 signalised pedestrian crossings in the Federal Territory.
Another 110 are non-signalised and often located at mid-block on especially long streets with heavy traffic.
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is an example of a street which has multiple pedestrian crossings.
“The formula PV²=106 is used to determine whether a street qualifies for a signalised pedestrian crossing. ‘P’ stands for pedestrians and ‘V’ for vehicles.
“If PV² equals one million, then the road qualifies for one,” said Abd Hamid.
But not every busy road can be tamed with the application of amber thermoplastic paint.
Jalan Kelang Lama, a six-lane highway, is one example.
Based on findings, the time taken to cross one lane is five seconds. This is taking into account the walking speed of expectant mothers and senior citizens. Then, consider the traffic volume of one car passing every three seconds.
“Not even a sprinter can make it across with the speed of oncoming vehicles which can travel up to speeds of 80kmph.
“For these roads, the solution lies in overhead bridges. There are some six or seven on Jalan Kelang Lama alone if I’m not mistaken,” he said.
But it all still depends on usage.
The busy Jalan Bukit Bintang intersection, for example, sports a pedestrian scramble (a pedestrian crossing system that stops all traffic to allow pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally, simultaneously).
This is a reflection of the volume of pedestrian traffic at shopping meccas.
Small lanes, such as those found in Kampung Baru, will have no need for pedestrian crossings.
However, there are no hard and fast rules.
“We will conduct viability studies. We will have to consider the volume of pedestrian traffic, number of vehicles and see if there is a history of accidents,” he said.
As for pedestrians having the right of way, there is still room for improvement when it comes to road attitude.
Design-wise, reminders for motorists to slow down can be done by introducing speed breakers before a crossing.
For better visibility, crossings on raised pavements can make the pedestrian appear to be standing on higher ground.
But, whether a pedestrian crossing will make it safer for people to cross the road will largely depend on the human factor.
“If the public do not follow the rules and insist on jaywalking instead of using an overhead bridge, then we will never achieve our safety goals,” he said.