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Pedestrians Need Greater Safety

Being a pedestrian in New Providence is not easy. Nearly 20 pedestrians lost their lives in 2012 and already New Providence recorded its first pedestrian death (January 5). Pedestrian deaths are too common on this island.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) keeps a watchful eye on tourists and local pedestrians downtown, but elsewhere Bahamians are largely left on their own. Walkers, joggers, and cyclists share many of our roads which barely support two passing SUVs. Even with reflective clothing and common sense, surviving seems to take a bit of luck.

Congested areas like Shirley Street have sidewalks placed with no cohesive approach. Kemp Road and other frequently used roads with high-density residential dwellings and schools need attention. Parents should not have to fear their children crossing a street next to a school.

Though the New Providence Road Improvement Project upgraded and installed much-needed sidewalks, some components such as the placement of concrete islands are puzzling. The crosswalks at Baha Mar are difficult for oncoming drivers to navigate. Vehicle and scooter accidents now occur frequently in the area and Baha Mar has yet to open.

Motorists tend to incur most of the blame, but pedestrians share responsibility and need to keep aware of their surroundings. With iPods and cell phones, pedestrians can be just as distracted as drivers – a dangerous gamble to play with a ton of metal whisking nearby.

The Bahamas must commit to greater pedestrian safety. If we want to encourage a more active community, we have to make Nassau more amenable to pedestrians. Downtown is hardly an enjoyable place to walk or drive. People cross at any point regardless of crosswalks, and drivers are forced to stop at green lights when the seemingly unaware tourist strolls into traffic. It is a frustrating experience for all.

The RBPF must continue to issue citations for traffic violations, particularly for aggressive driving which occurs outside of police checkpoints and continues to be neglected. Aggressive drivers have too much freedom and treat the highways like a race circuit. We must also install crosslights across the island that provide countdowns of time to cross the street. And in highly congested areas like Baha Mar, stoplights with pedestrian call buttons to force traffic to stop only when pedestrians are present would appease walkers and vehicles.

Pedestrians and motorists share responsibility for road safety. Yet, the overwhelming number of traffic- related deaths attributed to pedestrians is too high. Crossing the street at any time of day should not be so dangerous.

Editorial from The Nassau Guardian

Posted in Opinions

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