Friday, 1 March, 2024

Jaywalking still a big problem in Valley roads


By Nayak Paudel
Kathmandu, Jan. 29: In 2017, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, took an initiative to fine the pedestrians jaywalking in the roads of Kathmandu Valley, citing increasing road accidents as reasons. As per the initiative, if the jaywalkers were unable to pay the stipulated fine, they would be given a two-hour awareness lesson on road discipline.
However, that initiative didn’t last, even for a significant number of days. It was dropped upon the order from higher authorities following a litany of complaints from the public. Many pedestrians opposed the move saying the valley lacked enough zebra crossings, overhead bridges and sidewalks to not jaywalk.
According to the traffic police, the initiative of fining the jaywalkers had got most pedestrians to use zebra crossings and overhead bridges but once that was outlawed, the problem started rearing its ugly head again.
“There is no law in place to penalise a pedestrian on the charge of not crossing a road through designated crossing points such as zebra crossing and overhead bridges, because of which our initiative to bring the jaywalkers to justice was discarded. However, one such law for the rule-violating pedestrian is a must if we are to mitigate their negligence on the part of pedestrian in the roads of the valley,” said Superintendent of Police (SP) Shyam Krishna Adhikari, spokesperson at Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD).
Kathmandu Valley witnesses the most number of road accidents, compared with any other places in the country: 10,030 road accidents (153 deaths) in Fiscal Year 2019/20; 8,511 accidents (254 deaths) in 2018/19 and 6,381 accidents (194 deaths) in 2017/18.
The traffic authorities informed that pedestrians account for 40 per cent of the casualties of road accidents in the valley.
Almost everywhere, pedestrians are seen crossing the roads wherever they feel comfortable rather than walking a little forward or backward to the properly designated places. And that sight is common throughout the day in every place -- from New Road and Sundhara to Bir Hospital and Ratna Park.
The eight-lane Koteshwor-Kalanki road section also bears testimony to many such pedestrians crossing the road Jaywalking still a...
without using zebra crossings or overhead bridges. That is why the road is gradually earning its name as one of the most accident-prone roads across Nepal.
“Since it is an eight-lane road, it is nothing new to see vehicles in high speed there, and it is not supposed to be crossed from any place where pedestrian want. We frequently have close encounters with the jaywalkers in that road section, but the situation is not that different in other places of the valley,” said Ram Bahadur Gurung, a taxi driver.
While vehicle drivers are liable for a host of penalties when they violate traffic rules, there also should be a law in place for rule-breaking pedestrian, authorities argue.
“We know there are not enough zebra crossings, overhead bridges and sidewalks in the Valley but lots of pedestrian tend not to use them even if they are installed. Pedestrian, most of whom are always seen in a rush, disregard safe crossings and walking just to reach their destination fast, and this increases risks of accidents,” said SP Adhikari.