Opinion / From the Press

Jaywalkers face fines but it's time to respect pedestrians' rights

( Updated: 2012-10-29 22:33

The authorities in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, are clamping down on jaywalkers, says an article in 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts:

They have begun imposing fines of 50 yuan ($8) on the first three culprits in groups who jump red lights at traffic signals.

In some cities, groups of pedestrians stroll confidently into the road even though a red light is against them, thinking that force of numbers gives them a sense of security and the legitimizes their actions.

The authorities should think more about the fundamental causes of this problem. Research has found that if waiting time at red lights in China is longer than 90 seconds, pedestrians lose their patience. The waiting time on some main roads is about 2 minutes, compared with about 60 seconds in Germany and 45 seconds in the United Kingdom.

China sets a long waiting time primarily to allow more vehicles to pass, but not pedestrians. In contrast, many developed countries put pedestrians before automobiles.

In China, when green lights are on for pedestrians, they  may still be blocked by vehicles turning right who do not have to stop for them. The authorities should allow pedestrians more time in which to cross roads.

Electric bicycles are another problem for pedestrians. They are fast but cannot brake quickly in case of emergency.

As more and more vehicles take to China's roads the country should pay greater attention to pedestrians' rights. This is an important sign of people-oriented development and the basic principle for all drivers.

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