LTA to roll out safety zones for the elderly

LTA to roll out safety zones for the elderly

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will introduce safety zones in five housing estates, in a bid to make the roads safer for elderly pedestrians.

Named "silver zones", these areas will be fitted with safety measures such as speed humps to slow vehicles down, centre dividers with railings to deter jaywalking and signs to alert motorists.

Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim announced yesterday that the zones will be tested in five towns with a high elderly population and relatively high accident rates involving the aged.

The estates to get the silver zones by year's end are Yishun, Jurong West, Bukit Merah, Marine Parade and Bedok.

Dr Faishal said in Parliament: "We are particularly focused on improving road safety for the elderly, who are over-represented in pedestrian accidents."

He noted that although elderly pedestrians make up only 16 per cent of the total, they account for 40 per cent of all pedestrian fatalities.

The elderly population is also growing on average by 32,000 each year, he said.

His ministry will look at adding these zones in other estates if the safety measures prove useful.

Yishun resident K. Rajandra, 83, welcomed the news. He noted that traffic is heavy in the estate, and called for roads to be better lit at night so motorists can spot pedestrians more easily.

On road safety, Dr Faishal said the LTA will tighten the criteria for a nine-year programme for accident-prone areas.

From this year, an area with 12 accidents over three years will be marked as a "black spot", down from 15 accidents. The LTA treats these accident-prone spots with measures such as controlled right-turn arrows.

The stricter criteria will increase the locations under the programme by 11 per cent, from 90 today to about 100.

Cycling and the safety of cyclists also featured prominently in yesterday's budget debate for the Ministry of Transport, with six MPs raising the issue.

Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) called for urgent action to make the roads safer for cyclists, and for "an integrated and coordinated" strategy for cycling as a mode of transport.

Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong urged that cycling be made safer and more comfortable, while Dr Janil Puthucheary (Pasir Ris-

Punggol GRC) asked if a target could be set for cycling as a primary mode of commuting.

Replying, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said he does not see the rationale in setting a target, and questioned if "people really want it that way".

He added that cyclists are safest when segregated from motorists, and also from pedestrians.

Dr Faishal said cycling paths will be built in Bishan, Bukit Panjang and Woodlands, to bring the number of cycling towns to 15.

On cycling safety, he said the Singapore Road Safety Council is leading an initiative to design and implement a voluntary cyclist education programme, which will have customised lessons for different groups of cyclists, such as students and commuting cyclists.

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