Device gives elderly a few more seconds at crossings

Local | 25 Jan 2018 5:24 pm

The Transport Department launched a six-month trial of a device that will allow the elderly and disabled people more time to cross the road.

People with green Octopus Cards meant for the elderly, or those with 'disabilities status' cards, can tap the devices placed at nine pedestrian crossings, and it will extend the time allowed for pedestrians by three to four seconds. 

The traffic light will also show a countdown clock when the 'green man' signal starts flashing, to convey the time available to get to safety. 

The idea was first floated by former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's penultimate Policy Address in 2016.

"There are more and more aged, senior citizens in Hong Kong; it's very natural for a developed country," said Wong Chi-hung, a chief engineer with the Transport Department.

William, who lives in the City Garden housing estate close to a crossing on Java Road that has been chosen for the trial, said he sometimes finds it difficult to cross the road quickly enough.

"The starting time is too narrow, in my opinion, because sometimes I can't walk so fast," said the 58-year-old, who walks with the aid of a cane.

The crossing at Java Road usually allows about 20 seconds for pedestrians. But when the crossing's smart device is activated, the length of time is extended by four seconds.

The Transport Department said the nine locations chosen for the trial are either near organizations and centers for the elderly or persons with disabilities, or close to old housing estates.

Wong admits that there could potentially be problems for other road users, as giving pedestrians additional time may mean congestion on the road network.

"So we will be very careful in choosing these sites," he said. "If we choose all the quiet sites, it may defeat the purpose of this trial. So ... we will try other sites which are busier, so we will see the effect on the motorists." -RTHK

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