Street designs speak volumes about road safety

Lane addressing participants at the briefing during the launch of the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the Global Street Design Guide in Kuala Lumpur. — Photos: SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

THE Bahasa Malaysia edition of Global Street Design Guide (GSDG) has been launched.

Other than English, it is also available in Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and Vietnamese.

During a briefing to coincide with the launch, Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) Malaysia programme manager K. Jashwanth urged cities in Malaysia to have their own street design guides.

“The street design strategies currently adopted in Malaysia are highly urban-centric, treating even neighbourhood streets like highways.

“Such a blanket approach has jeopardised the safety of road users who don’t drive.

“Therefore, it is important for cities in Malaysia to contextualise their street designs to meet the needs of various types of road users,” he said.

Jashwanth says Malaysia’s street designs are too urban-centric.Jashwanth says Malaysia’s street designs are too urban-centric.

Jashwanth suggested that underutilised spaces in cities be reclaimed to produce safer and more pedestrian-friendly roads.

“It is important for city planners to have a thorough understanding of different types of transit typologies to maximise the carrying capacity of roads.

“To achieve this, various road elements such as zebra crossings and traffic islands must be integrated well.

“Low-cost tools like the GSDG play a role here,” he added during the launch of the guide at an event space in Kuala Lumpur.

The briefing also touched on problems caused by excessive number of cars on the roads as well as questionable behaviours that endangered road users.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) coordinator Yasmin Lane said people’s behaviours would change when their surroundings change.

“Hence, through good street designs, we could encourage more people to opt for non-car mobility options,” she said.

Lane also highlighted the need to refrain from labelling vehicle crashes as “accidents”, because they were predictable and controllable.

GDCI India programme manager A. Uditi emphasised the need to lower the speed limit in cities to prevent drivers from speeding.

“It is already a trend for cities around the world to lower their speed limits to reduce the fatality risk when crashes occur.

“For example, Paris limits the speed in its urban areas to only 30km/h.

“Infrastructure like speed cameras, road signs, landscapes and speed bumps could be utilised more by city planners to reduce vehicle speed,” she said.

She added that pedestrians should not be blamed for making unsafe decisions when navigating city roads because of unfriendly street designs.

Founded in 2014, GDCI is a partner of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for road design.

Also present at the event were representatives from DBKL, Works Ministry, Road Transport Department and Public Works Department, as well as engineers from the private sector.

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