Our road crossing culture is a chaotic most of the time! And in the absence of traffic lights it is difficult for the pedestrians to know when exactly to cross a road, be it in the town or at certain sections of our roads. Sadly, zebra crossing is a highly misunderstood and failed concept here.
First, the people behind the wheels do not give way to people, who are waiting to cross the road. Sometimes, this leads to many problems. Some pedestrians wait for the coming cars to cross before they finally decide to cross a road. But again, it is dangerous when some people, who understand the rules of how a zebra crossing works, try to cross the road without waiting for the speeding cars. Once some drivers are on the road, they rule everything until they get off their cars.
The second thing is our pedestrians are not adequately aware of what they have to do when they cross a road. Some of us hate to walk a few hundred yards down or up where we can safely cross the road, but instead cut the road without looking at the speeding cars. That is a big danger, right there. That’s why I think we need to educate our public on how to safely cross a road and develop a strong road crossing culture whereby, the drivers know when to give way to the people,
who are crossing the sections of our road that are painted black and white and those people wishing to go to the other side of the road know when not to cross a road and bring about traffic jams.
And on the Thimphu-Babesa Expressway, we have huge bumpers that are supposed to also serve as the zebra-crossing. But sadly, drivers on this stretch have no time to wait for the pedestrians waiting to cross the road. This could become dangerous when some people wishing to go to the other side of the road think it is their right to walk ahead at the zebra-crossing. That’s one of our biggest concerns. I hope nothing untoward will happen, though.
That’s why I see the likes of Police-Youth Partnership programs can really come in handy in this matter. Instead of making our young people check drivers’ licenses and other required documents, we must use their energies to educate the general public on the importance of following a safe road crossing culture. I see our young people creating awareness (of course with the guidance from the Traffic Police) among our drivers on the importance of zebra crossing and their responsibilities.
Otherwise, one would never know if he or she would return home safely with a packet of salt from a nearby shop. And it is equally risky for the people behind the wheels.
Opinion by Nawang Phuntsho