A recent car accident that claimed the life of a young pedestrian has led to renewed complaints from residents in Shangyi Borough, Jhubei City (竹北), Hsinchu County, who say that the amount of time allocated for pedestrians crossing at the intersection of city roads and Provincial Highway No. 61 is too short.
Residents say the traffic lights allowing pedestrians to cross the 50m-wide street provide only 30 seconds of walk time, which was not only dangerous for elderly pedestrians, but could also prove fatal for others.
In May this year a 14-year-old girl, Su Hui-mei (蘇惠梅), was killed after being hit by a car — driven by a man surnamed Hsiao (蕭) — as she was attempting to cross the busy thoroughfare.
Hsinchu County Councilor Ho Kan-ming (何淦銘) said he had asked that the lights be extended to 40 seconds soon after the accident.
However Shangyi Borough Warden Tseng Fu (曾福) and other residents petitioned him on Friday to further extend the crossing time.
To make their point, borough residents walked across the street when Ho was present to show that even 40 seconds was still too little time to safely cross the road.
According to Lee Wen-hsiung (李文雄), an official from the Directorate General of Highways, the reason that the traffic lights on Provincial Highway No. 61 — also known as the West Coast Expressway — had such a limited countdown was because there was limited pedestrian traffic in the area.
The short timespan was set to ensure drivers did not become impatient and run the red light, Lee said, adding that Hsinchu City and other cities where local roads intersected with expressways suffered from the same problem.
The agency has already asked for funding to build a pedestrian walkway over the southern exit of the Fengbi Tunnel in order to resolve the situation, Lee said, adding that if no complications arose the funding would be allotted next year and construction would begin in 2014.
The Traffic Corps from the county police station said that they would be installing speed cameras to reinforce traffic laws.
Meanwhile, according to Ho, the dead girl’s father has hearing disabilities, her grandfather is ill and currently in a shelter home, her grandmother is intellectually challenged. Su also has a younger brother and sister. The whole family lives on the income of the mother, Kung Yu-li (龔玉麗), who works odd jobs, Ho said. He said because Su was not yet 15 when she was killed, the family did not meet the county’s criteria to apply for insurance paid when county residents die accidentally.
While Hsiao had visited the dead girl’s home once after the accident, he has as yet not given any assistance to the family and claims to be jobless. He said he was only willing to provide an out of court settlement worth NT$500,000, for which he would have to take a loan, local media have reported.