The Zambia Road Safety Trust says there is need for a new mindset to improve the transportation infrastructure used by pedestrians and cyclists in Zambia to address fatalities on the roads.
Pedestrian and cycling fatalities remain a major concern for road safety in the country. Road crash fatality data reveals that approximately 70 % of road deaths in Zambia are pedestrian and cyclists.
According to the WHO, most low and middle income countries experience high pedestrian and cyclists’ deaths. But the severity of the problem in Zambia is deep and requires immediate action.
Trust Chairman Daniel Mwamba says the priority in Zambia now should be to save lives of pedestrians and cyclists- through several established measurers such as the implementation of car-free pedestrian zones, clearly marked zebra crossings, footpaths on both sides of all streets, pedestrian and cycle traffic lights, intersection modifications, cycle streets, cycle lanes and cycle paths in order to save lives.
Mr. Mwamba said other measures required to enhance pedestrian include raised and extra wide with highly visible striping, usually with, special overhead illumination and sometimes with flashing yellow lights to alert motorists, pedestrian-activated crossing signals, both at intersections and at mid-block zebra crossings, pedestrian refuge islands for crossing wide streets and wide, well-lit footpaths, often furnished with benches for resting
He however said that these measures require a mindset shift for Zambia’s current city planning.
Mr. Mwamba noted with regret that few Zambian motorists bother to stop for pedestrians waiting to enter zebra crossings without traffic signals.
He said Zambian enforcement agencies have focused their subsidies, regulations, and planning efforts on the safety of motorists, even if walking and cycling account for a big percentage of trips in Zambia.
Mr. Mwamba said the real problem in Zambia is not lack of solutions, but political will in the face of a major pandemic affecting mostly innocent pedestrians and cyclists to protect them.
“Attitudes must change. The Zambian public must be educated about the severity of the pedestrian and cyclist crash problem and the urgent need to deal with it. The safety issue must be brought home. The neglect of no motorist safety not only risks the injury and death of family and friends who walk and cycle, but it also deprives everyone of valuable exercise, mobility options, independence, and even fun”, he added.
He said it is important to package and market safety-enhancing policies in a way that dramatizes their benefits to everyone.
Mr. Mwamba said instead of being viewed as punitive measures aimed against motorists, they should be presented as new opportunities for all segments of the population.