Tag Archives: Pedestrian safety

Who should give way at Pedestrian crossing?

Who should give way at the Pedestrian crossing? The driver or the pedestrian?
I’m not joking, this is a genuine question.

20 years ago when I first came to Singapore, it was very clear-cut. At zebra crossing the pedestrian is king. Motorists would slow down and give way to people who is crossing or prepare to cross. However, over the years, the protection offered by the pedestrian crossing seems deteriorated.  You are now STRONGLY ADVISED to STOP and check, to make sure the cars have stopped before crossing.

On the other hand, some drivers are showing little respect to pedestrian crossing. e.g.

  • It is common to see cars encroach and block the zebra crossing.
  • At traffic intersection, impatient drivers cut in between crossing pedestrians to make a right turn.


Some drivers drive through as people waiting at zebra crossing.    video credit: Boonchun

Such disrespect to the pedestrian crossing may have been “legitimised” by a recent communication from LTA.

Stop before crossing zebra

Given the deteriorated driving culture, the first part of the message is not wrong. Couple with the graphical images it almost sound like a death threat.

Taking simple precautions while riding your devices in public can help save lives. Riders, stay safe on the road by sparing a few seconds to stop and check that it is safe before crossing.

However, the second part of the message is worrying:

Motorist can also play a part in exercising patience, slowing down and looking out for pedestrians, cyclists and PMD riders at crossings before driving.

This make it sounds as if the driver’s part is optional. Is this a reflection of the reality, or does LTA really believe the driver should not play the dominant role in road safety?

Famous local blogger Mr. Brown posted in FaceBook yesterday:

This is why drivers often almost kill pedestrians at zebra crossings. The Land Transport Authority tells pedestrians to “Stop. Look. Cross.” while telling drivers they can just “Slow. Check. Drive.”

When in reality, the onus should be on drivers to “Slow the Heck Down. Stop. Look. Look Again. Then Drive.”

……..

Of course we are responsible for our personal safety, and we must teach our kids things like don’t look at their phones while crossing roads, and so on. But the law must always protect the weaker users first. The hammer must always come down harder on the person wielding the vehicle that can kill.

……

Van almost hit student at zebra crossing.

The recent episodes remind me of a controversial case in 2015.

Pedestrians with right of way ‘must still share responsibility’

Is crossing at green man really safe? Or jaywalk safer?

Even if the lights are in their favour, pedestrians still have to check for oncoming traffic.

This was held in a rare 2-1 Court of Appeal decision in which the Chief Justice dissented.

Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Quentin Loh, who were in the majority, explained their reasoning by highlighting a Highway Code rule that requires pedestrians to be on the alert.

“Pedestrians should take charge of their own safety,” the court said in judgment grounds issued on Thursday, and decided the injured victim in the case before it was 15 per cent to blame despite having the right of way.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who wrote a separate view explaining his objections, said the ruling means

“that pedestrians will no longer be able to take comfort in the fact that they are crossing at a point controlled by a police officer or by traffic lights”.

“They will have to safeguard themselves in precisely the same manner in such circumstances as if they were jaywalking.”

Indeed, if the rule of law is so powerless, what’s the meaning of traffic rules and priority?

I’m not expert in law, but since young, my mother told me “must follow the law” because only bad guy breaks the law. As a layman, I understand the law is a clear reference to judge what is right or wrong.

One of the recent Active Mobility Advisory Panel recommendation is to introduce mandatory stop for cyclists and PMD users before they cross a pedestrian crossing, while drivers were only strongly encouraged to slow down and check.

I have difficulty to understand, why this new law stress that people who need to cross the road MUST STOP and check in order to protect themselves, while the driver, who can get others hurt, were only encouraged to SLOW down, check and drive? 

What if there is no car in sight and I just run/cycle/scoot across the zebra without stopping, will I break the law?

What if a driver “SLOW” down from 50kph to 49kph and dash across the zebra while people waiting to cross, is that OK?

Such statement in law send a conflicting and dangerous message to the average driver and which may legitimise an aggressive driving culture.

Reflection on the 2016 AMAP recommendation

The Active Mobility Advisory Panel (AMAP) has been instrumental in introducing cycling and PMD as a viable mode of transport for the public. For example, allowing the bicycle to be used on walkways helps many slow cyclists to avoid the risk from cars, which is possible after AMAP’s first recommendation in 2016. For that, I’m truly grateful and proud of being part of it.

However, in the midst of pushing for Active Mobility, I, as part of the AMAP members, had underestimated the stress and risks imposed on the pedestrians walking on the pavement.

This has led to a significant increase in the number of reported accidents involving PMDs, bicycles and power-assisted bicycles (PABs) on public paths, from 19 in 2015 to 42 in 2016 and to 128 in 2017. A number of them have resulted in serious injuries.  –  REVIEW OF ACTIVE MOBILITY REGULATIONS FOR SAFER PATH SHARING (2018-08-24)

Move towards a car-lite nation After eight months (EIGHT MONTHS!!) of work, this is the best a 14-member advisory panel could come up with -- otherwise known as:

The Stupidest Proposal. Ever. Chew On It! 2016-03

For pedestrian’s safety, it is stated in the Code of Conduct (COC) that bicycle and PMD riders should slow down when they approach the pedestrian. However, some riders ignore the COC because it is just an advisory (optional) and they tend to focus only on the (mandatory) law (15 km/h) and Regulation (20kg/25km/700mm).

The law is often a clear reference when a layman judge what is (morally) right or wrong.

Some riders take it as their entitled “right” to go at “legal speed limit” and demand the pedestrians to give way as they ring the bell. In case of an accident, these riders blame the pedestrian for unexpected movement, leaving them “no time to react”. However, they never admit the risk was created by themselves because they did not slow down when approaching the pedestrians.

I feel we need to protect the pedestrian by law.

On reflection, it was not logical to legally allow a new group of fast device riders on the pavement, without demanding the riders to control their device in order not to harm the public.

I was disappointed regarding the recent AMAP recommendations for walkways, which only suggested to lower the speed limit, but didn’t take the opportunity to address the issue of the legal requirement for responsible riding on the walkway.

Having said that, I must admit what AMAP in Singapore has done is very pioneering and groundbreaking. As far as I know, no another developed country has made it legal for adults to ride on the walkway, riders really need to treat this as a special privileged and to give priority to pedestrians who are more vulnerable. It is understandable that such a radical measure which has never been tried before may take some time to get right.

More thoughts on 2018 AMAP recommendations:

  1. Lower the speed limit on the pavement from 15km/h to 10km/h
  2. Mandatory for AM device users to stop and look out at road crossings before riding across at a slow speed

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