Good design saves pedestrians' lives - transport engineer

Many factors affect the likelihood of pedestrian fatalities. They include motorists' and pedestrians' habits, socioeconomic dynamics, urban design and even the time of day, week and month.
Many factors affect the likelihood of pedestrian fatalities. They include motorists' and pedestrians' habits, socioeconomic dynamics, urban design and even the time of day, week and month.
Image: 123rf / Katarzyna Białasiewicz

Pedestrian deaths, which comprise 38% of road fatalities in SA, can be designed out of towns and cities, according to research from Stellenbosch University.

Pascal Nteziyaremye, a recent doctoral graduate in civil engineering, found crashes involving pedestrians were more likely where there were traffic circles, industrial areas and intersections with at least four approaches.

Pascal Nteziyaremye
Pascal Nteziyaremye
Image: Stellenbosch University

Nteziyaremye, a transport engineer at GoMetro, said pedestrians were killed most often in densely populated, economically disadvantaged parts of southeastern Cape Town.

The lingering effects of apartheid-era policies had "inevitably affected the way people travel as well as the extent to which pedestrian safety was prioritised", he said.

Beyond the built environment, socioeconomic dynamics also played a role in pedestrian crashes.

"Fewer people own cars in these poorer communities and residents rely solely on walking and public transport," he said.

"Poorer areas also lack adequate road infrastructure, work and economic opportunities, social services and recreational facilities."

With few safe places to run and roam, children often play in the streets, and Nteziyaremye’s research found that 244 such children were hit by vehicles. 

Pedestrian crashes were more frequent during morning and evening peak traffic hours, on Fridays and Saturdays, and around payday at the end of the month, he said.

While this was linked to increased numbers of people moving around at these times, there was also a link to higher alcohol consumption.

Though everyone must be cautious, the built environment ultimately played a large role in ensuring the safety of all people on the roads, said Nteziyarmye.

"There are instances where pedestrians are left with no other choice than to jaywalk if there is no crossing facility," he said. "In this circumstance, the fault lies with planning and design. We need roads that are more user-friendly."


X