By Mobolaji Adebayo
In developing nations, one of the major issues in road safety is the use of Pedestrian Bridges.
Pedestrian bridge is a structure built over the highway to connect the people from one part of the road to another. It actually removes the pedestrian from the road surface and creates more interconnected movements where vehicles and pedestrians do not interfere.
The main benefit of a Pedestrian Bridge is to make crossings safer for pedestrians and other road users. Of course, the desired additional benefit would be that by pushing pedestrians and cyclists off the road, oncoming traffic will no longer have to stop at crossings and can keep moving unhindered.
Studies have shown that pedestrians are one of the most vulnerable groups in traffic accidents. Pedestrian traffic accidents have become one of the most crucial problems in the world, especially in developing nations.
Also, one of the most important issues in urban centres is pedestrian interference and passing cars, which is a major concern for citizens, causing stress and insecurity for pedestrians as well as drivers.
Since it came on board in Lagos, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration has demonstrated the willingness to enhance public transportation. This has led to the construction and maintenance of Pedestrian Bridges and other similar road infrastructure across the State in order to ensure the safety of commuters.
In line with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s strides in ensuring the safety of Lagosians, more Pedestrian Bridges are already being designed to ease traffic congestion as a result of people having to cross the Expressway.
But the question that readily begs for answers is why residents usually shun the bridges at the risk of their own lives? It remains amazing as to why the residents would prefer to cross the highway rather than embracing the more civilized and safe option of using the bridge.
In Lagos, for instance, while it is true that there are still many places in need of Pedestrian Bridges, it is, however, saddening that the ones painstakingly constructed for the use of the people are not being made use of.
It is really sad to observe that some residents have chosen not to make use of the bridges. Perhaps, more worrisome is the fact that some of the bridges have become homes for the destitute, the mentally challenged and all sorts of anti-social characters.
Most people tend to view the additional waiting time, increased physical effort or discomfort of being crammed in a bridge full of strangers as a burden, and would just choose the risk of crossing the road.
The government’s decision to build Pedestrian Bridges is not unconnected with the high rate of mortality usually recorded on major highways. On many occasions, commuters have been crushed by speeding vehicles on the Expressway.
In one such accident that I witnessed a long time ago, an aged woman, who got the tip of her wrapper entangled to a commercial bus, was crushed beyond recognition as she was dragged for several metres on the road before her remains were recovered under the vehicle’s tires.
It was such a gory sight. It was so scary that I couldn’t sleep for a long time. No one would wish such tragic death for even his enemies. It was a sickening spectacle.
As rightly noted above, the need to reduce carnage on the road informed the government’s decision to build the bridges. The newly constructed Pedestrian Bridges are fully-equipped with overhead shelter, which ensures safety for pedestrians against the elements, day and night.
It is, thus, distressing to still find people crossing the major highways, even right under the Pedestrian Bridges. Sometimes one tends to wonder if it is about indiscipline or nonchalant attitude towards safety.
Perhaps, more bothersome is the fact that in cases where barricades were put up to discourage the people from crossing the highways, such blockades are often vandalised by the people. This is quite ironic and illogical. Why will the people choose to be their own enemies?
By and large, Lagosians need to change their attitude toward using the Pedestrian Bridges. They need to comply voluntarily as this will easily reduce the government’s burden (especially in terms of having to take the costly route of enforcement) and also reduce the risk of needless deaths on the roads.
Lagosians are, thus, enjoined to always use the Pedestrian Bridges. Besides reducing the risk of needless loss of lives, doing so would reduce traffic gridlocks, thus ensuring more stress-free travelling experience.
On the whole, the importance of Pedestrian Bridges cannot be overemphasised. They are built for safety purposes and to prevent avoidable accidents.
In Lagos, the government has spent a lot of money in putting the Pedestrian Bridges in place in order to ease traffic and reduce road accidents. It would only amount to a waste of scarce resources if the residents whom the bridges are meant to protect refuse to make use of them.
We have more than enough challenges on our hands, both at the national and State levels. It is, thus, not reasonable that we should add manmade and avoidable problems to such a myriad of challenges.
As a people, we need to review our attitude toward the sanctity of human life. One really takes exception to the people’s attitude of neglecting Pedestrian Bridge for the deadly option of crossing the highway. This is, to say the least, inexcusable.
Imagine the agony, pains and heartaches that parents, relations, friends and colleagues of victims of needless tragic road deaths are subjected to. The sad example of the woman cited above is enough to dissuade even the most defiant character from taking such a pointless route.
As they say, a word is enough for the wise. Lagosians, think safety, always use the Pedestrian Bridges. It is not only for your own good, it is really the right thing to do.
Adebayo is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja