Researchers are exploring the use of 3D zebra crossing in Kampala as the latest safety measure to protect pedestrians on city roads.
The researchers believe that the 3D crossings can aid motorists’ vision and help slow down cars when they reach pedestrian crossing points. On Sunday December 2, motorists and pedestrians that used Bombo road; above Bat Valley primary school were treated to a pop-up zebra crossing, a first in an African city.
Its stripes looked more like blocks on the road. The researchers from Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the University of York supported by British Academy, are exploring the use of creative or non-conventional methods to ensure inclusive transport infrastructure in Nairobi and Kampala.
The methods to engage the dwellers of both cities include art, storytelling, urban dialogues, and photography to capture the city dwellers’ mobility challenges and how they can be addressed.
The 3D zebra crossing is one of the pieces that are not used in Africa but have been tried in other countries like Iceland. Uganda is the first country in Africa to pilot the 3D zebra crossing, according to Howard Cambridge, a researcher at SEI.
“This 3D zebra crossing draws the attention of motorists, motorcycle taxis, and PSVs to pedestrians crossing the busy road,” said Cambridge.
Amanda Ngabirano, an urban planner and leader for SEI Kampala team, said they intended to observe how motorists would “behave when such a more visible zebra crossing is in place.”
She said, however, that motorists still need more sensitization and behaviour change to know that a zebra crossing is critical area where pedestrians and other vulnerable people are likely to cross at and it must therefore be respected.
Uganda still has a challenge to make its city streets safe for all. At least 60% of people in Kampala walk to their work places, according to official figures. But most infrastructure in the city has been skewed towards those using private cars, accounting for just 10% of Kampala population.
About 30% use public means like taxis and buses. Even where facilities for those walking or cycling have been put, including zebra crossings around town, they are hardly respected by motorists which puts pedestrians’ lives at risk.
Boda boda riders, researchers said, were the most notorious when they reached crossing points for pedestrians. Ugandans reacted to the 3D zebra crossing both on Facebook and Twitter.
Peter Kaujju, the deputy director of corporate affairs at Kampala Capital City Authority, twitted: “This certainly would enhance safety of our travelling public especially pedestrians. Let’s explore”.
Dr Andrew Kitaka, the director for physical planning, applauded the idea: “Good idea. I have always wanted to try put something like this. Could even be better if you add wedge or conical shapes.”
Other Ugandans said it had worked in other countries so it work in Kampala as well. Ivan Nome, a Ugandan, wrote on Facebook: “Same concept has worked in Japan. A certain painting on the roads slows down cars especially in residential areas”.
Other people urged the city authority to replicate it in others sections of the city especially at areas where school children cross. Urban & Infrastructure Development Conference, an organisation hosted Kampala School for Integrated Urban Planning (SIUP), twitted: “Great work; great initiative! Extend on Kampala Road Main Post Office, and school children zebra Crossings around the city”.
For the school children in Kampala, the call to guarantee their safety on Ugandan road is even more urgent. Official statistics from the ministry of Works show that a school child dies every month on Ugandan roads in city or peri-urban suburbs. About 20% of fatalities in Uganda are school children.