The introduction of zebra crossing rule on November 11, for the safety of the people, is taking off well with pedestrians as they become more aware of its benefit. According to the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), zebra crossings on roads are important due to increasing traffic caused by the increase in the number of vehicles.
Many pedestrians and motorists alike, that saw the zebra crossing rule as an inconvenience, are realizing that it is now safer to cross the roads with the help of zebra crossings, particularly during the night.
One of the challenges that the police face in enforcing the rule is the limited manpower to control the zebra crossing marks. RBP has had help from volunteers from the National Land Commission and DeSuung in manning the zebra crossings.
Deputy Chief of Police, Thrimdag Gongma Dorji Wangchuk, said that RBP will continue to seek the help of DeSuung, Friends of Police (FOP) and even students who are interested to volunteer during their vacation to implement the zebra crossing rule.
He pointed out that pedestrians feel that the distance between two zebra crossings is lengthy due to their habit of taking short cuts along the roads.
“We cannot afford to have 101 zebra crossings then every time we have to stop the vehicles and it might become a nuisance unless we have a fly over bridge or an underground channel,” said the Deputy Chief of Police.
“We should have zebra crossing marks in every area, but now we are concentrating more in areas where there the flow of vehicles is more,” said the Deputy Chief of Police.
He further added, “Once people are educated, RBP need not have to place people to sensitize, they just need to mark zebra cross. However, it will take time to make people understand.”
Zebra crossing rule is being implemented in all 20 dzongkhags and thromdes are taking the initiatives to sensitize the public.
However, fines will be imposed on pedestrians that do not want to follow the rule and are a habitual rule breaker.
Chief Transport Officer, Road Safety Transport Authority (RSTA), Karma Pemba said that people should know the rules. If a person fails to use the zebra cross within the 20m range then he/she will be penalized and if no zebra cross is seen within the range then the person can cross the roads but with proper observation.
A survey is undertaken to see the locations where there is high frequency of traffic flow and pedestrian movement, and only then is a zebra crossing marking made.
“We will study the location where there is the necessary need of zebra crossing and will ask Thromde to do the marking,” Karma Pemba said, adding that it is mostly needed around the school areas and wherever there is a bus stop.
“Walking through the zebra crossing is safer than walking on roads without zebra crossing,” a pedestrian told this paper.
A 35-year-old man, Sonam, said, “It has become my habit to use zebra crossing, I feel safe and secure because after the introduction of zebra crossing, drivers became more understanding.”
Similarly, Denker, 17, said that she prefers to use the zebra crossings to cross the road. “Before, I used to cross roads from wherever I liked, but today I use the zebra crossing because I know the safety of it.”
A 67-year-old granny said that she is happy with the introduction of zebra crossing rule because she no longer has to wait for the endless cars to pass by and she feels safe.
While interviewing some of the drivers, they said that they are happy and satisfied with the initiatives. “We get a chance to show our respect to the pedestrians, and we are happy because we can also bring down the speed limits.”