Network for the Environment and Social (Human) Security

Pedestrians – the forgotten species

Posted by on Jul 18, 2011 in Sustainability | 0 comments

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The following examples, which can be found in every city might seem of minor interest, but it does show clearly how empty-headed our politicians sometimes are.

Modern cities are built for cars. The common pedestrian is taken into account as something marginal. Since at junctions the traffic lights have to change colors every once in a while, to let the cars from each side of the junctions move, pedestrian crossings are possible. This statement is of course too extreme, but one can’t fight the impression that it is not  altogether wrong. Some cities in Europe try a different approach, according to the International Herald Tribune from June 26. 2011 (1). They make live more difficult for car drivers and easier for pedestrians. Kudos to those municipalities, but the question remains; what took them so long?

And why is it only limited to European cities?

In the city where I live, in Tel Aviv/Israel, this new approach is still unknown and it can be taken as granted that most of the cities in the world are still so organised as to accommodate rather cars than pedestrians. Regardless of the fact, that every car driver, as soon as s/he leaves the car becomes instantly a pedestrian. Still urban planners seem never to walk, but are always driving  in their fancy cars. How else could one explain the fact, that on some junction are gadgets installed, where pedestrians can press a button so the traffic lights will change and the pedestrian can cross the street. A better idea would be to install a sensor which would change the traffic light when a car comes and the pedestrian would have to stop. All the other time the pedestrian would have green light. At the rush hour the traffic light would work on a fixed time interval. Of course, this only works non-principle roads.

Another example of thoughtless negligence is the promenade along the sea shore in Tel Aviv. The street is being worked on and a concrete barrier of about one meter height has been put up along the street, see the picture at the side. The barrier runs for hundred’s of meters without a break. What happens is, that the pedestrians who com from the side streets are climbing over the wall in order to cross the street. This is very dangerous since the street is now narrower as usual and, how could it be different, the municipality has forgotten to lower the speed limits to 30 kilometer per hour for the distance of the building site.

What do the people responsible for such decisions think? That the pedestrians will make a detour of hundreds of meter until they get to the crosswalk? And never mind whether the sun scorches down or the rain is pouring, no one will jaywalk. The problem is, that if an accident happens the insurance company will pay the compensation for the party without blame.

But even so the accident also happened because of the neglect of the municipality. The responsibility of the municipality is to consider all possibilities and to organize the city in the best possible way.

After all, the center of politics are the people!


(*) Just three hours after publishing this post, I came across an article in the Haaretz news paper about the danger at the street construction (2) mentioned in my post.

For further reading:

1. International Herald Tribune

2. Haaretz

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