Thu, Jan 03, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Kaohsiung traffic lights only ‘decorative’: netizen

By Ko Yu-hao and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

An anonymous netizen who recently conducted a field study on the inclination of motorcyclists in Greater Kaohsiung to abide by traffic regulations concluded that traffic lights in the city are mostly installed for “decorative purposes.”

The findings of the netizen, who carried out his observations by riding his motorcycle around the city for more than one month, have been lauded by other netizens as “truly pertinent.”

Greater Kaohsiung has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of motorcycles, and while the netizen described the city as warm-hearted and easygoing, he found that when a traffic light changes from green to red, only about 30 percent of motorcyclists stop.

As many as 35 percent of motorcyclists ignore the red light and ride straight through it, the netizen said.

“Among those who ignored the traffic lights were office employees in a rush to get to work or to go home, young people eager to meet their friends, hooligans riding motorcycles without mufflers, elderly men traveling slower than 35kph, and middle-aged men riding their scooters while smoking and chewing betel nut,” he said.

The netizen said that 30 percent of riders go beyond the stop line and stop at the zebra crossing, usually because they failed to beat the red light because they were blocked by another vehicle in front of them, or were attempting to avoid the smoke emitted by the modified exhausts of other scooters.

In addition, the netizen said that about 5 percent of motorcyclists ran red lights by pretending to turn right before switching back to their original lane.

“In addition to faking right turns, almost all motorcyclists in Greater Kaohsiung make right turns at traffic junctions regardless of whether it is legal for them to do so,” the netizen said. “They appear to be doing this because they are under the [false] impression that people are always allowed a right turn on a red light.”

An official at the Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Transportation Bureau acknowledged that running red lights and making illegal right turns at traffic stops have topped the list of traffic violations in the city in recent years.

“The city has suffered from particularly chaotic traffic following the merging of the former Kaohsiung city and Kaohsiung county [in 2011], which brought the combined number of motorcycles in the area to 2.3 million, among the highest in the country,” the official said.

The official added that due to initiatives such as educational advertisement campaigns and the implementation of harsher punishments for traffic regulation violators, the traffc in the city had improved noticeably.

“However, we admit that there is still plenty of room for improving the traffic situation in Greater Kaohsiung’s rural areas,” the official said.

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