JIS News

June is Road Safety Month and in the period leading up to this observance, much attention will be focused on the many pedestrian crossings across Jamaica.
Within the next few months, the National Works Agency (NWA), the organization with responsibility for planning, building and maintaining a reliable, safe and efficient main road network, will commence upgrading work on the nation’s approximately 370 pedestrian crossings.
Stephen Shaw, Manager of Planning and Research at the NWA, while speaking at the launch of World Health Day and Labour Day activities recently at Excelsior Community College in Kingston, explained that the scope of work would entail brightening/repainting the crossings, most of which are faded. In addition, he said, proper signage would be put in “to indicate to the motorists that there is a pedestrian crossing on approach and they should be cautious when proceeding”.
Meanwhile, Patrick Rose, Director of Planning and Research, said that there were constant demands for more pedestrian crossings to be put in place and the NWA had developed guidelines to ensure the safety of the wider public and to guide the installation of pedestrian crossings.
“The first thing, and this is very important, is that no pedestrian crossing should be placed on any road by any civic group or agency without prior permission or approval from the road authority,” outlined Mr. Rose.
The guidelines are that:
– Pedestrian crossings will be marked at all signalised intersections.
– Unsignalised mid-block pedestrian crossings will not be allowed over more than two lanes of traffic.
– Unsignalised mid-block pedestrian crossings will not be placed within 300 metres of a signalised intersection.
– Priority consideration will be given to pedestrian crossings in front of schools and hospitals.
– Authorised pedestrian crossings must be maintained by the relevant road authorities at all times.
– Every effort must be made by the road authorities to ensure that the location of pedestrian crossings on any given road represents the safest possible location for pedestrians to cross along that road.
– Pedestrian crossings must connect to established sidewalks at both ends.
– The placement of overhead pedestrian bridges across busy corridors must be warranted and every effort taken to enforce their use by pedestrians.
– The road authority MUST SUPERVISE the placement of all pedestrian crossings.
– The road authorities must maintain an inventory of all pedestrian crossings.
“These are the policies which we now have in place and will be enforcing as of now, for all pedestrian crossings,” Mr. Rose stressed.
In addition, the gazetted (December 1999) dimensions for pedestrian crossings, provide that the markings must be two parallel continuous lines, not less than 0.15 metre and not greater than 0.2 metre wide, drawn across the roadway and in between, white stripes 0.6 metre wide and 0.6 metre apart. Across the approaches to the pedestrian crossing shall be a stop line at a distance not less than 3 metres and not greater than 5 metres.
Commenting on the practice of painting pedestrian crossings in yellow and white, Mr. Shaw urged that this be discontinued immediately as “the colour of these road markings must be white.” Also, the appropriate signage must accompany pedestrian crossings to ensure the safety of all road users.
“In addition to the crossings, there should be signage mounted on the sidewalks, on either end of the crossing, with either the yellow beacon ball, which may be illuminated, or other pedestrian crossing signs,” he continued.
Opposition Spokesman on Transport, Mike Henry while noting the contribution of civic and community groups in ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cautioned the public to seek the proper guidance before embarking on any road safety initiatives.
“As we [look to] celebrate Labour Day.and road safety is the importance…we will find enthusiastic communities painting pedestrian crossings. They are painting them incorrectly in size of depth, width and where they should be located.and they are not proper warnings to the motorists,” Mr. Henry said.
In his comments, Dr. Ken Baugh, the Opposition Spokesman on Health, said that “death and disabilities from road traffic accidents have become a world epidemic of alarming proportions, rivalling diseases and wars,” and urged “government, opposition and users of the road, especially drivers, pedestrians, parent-teacher associations, citizens associations, and other organisations in civil society” to work together to prevent road traffic accidents.
“The pedestrian has a responsibility at nights, to ensure that he or she wears the proper type clothing -lighter clothing that can be easily seen by motorists,” emphasised Mr. Rose. “Safety on our roads begins with you the travelling public,” he stated.

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