The Taipei Department of Transportation has placed bilingual signs at zebra crossings on busy intersections along Renai Road on which buses operate in two directions, cautioning pedestrians to look out for oncoming traffic.
The department on Friday last week placed the signs — which read “look left” or “look right” in Chinese and English — at the intersection of Renai Road and Fuxing S Road, and on Wednesday painted markings on the road at the intersection of Renai Road and Daan Road.
The two-way bus traffic on Renai Road was believed to be the cause of an accident that killed US neuroscientist Bruce Bridgeman in July last year, when he was hit by a bus while crossing the road.
Department Commissioner Chang Jer-yang (張哲揚) said that pedestrians crossing the road would be safe as long as they do not cross on a red light.
He said that the traffic lights along the road operate with a delay to allow sufficient time for pedestrians to safely cross the road.
However, some people exploit the feature in an attempt to rush across the road, putting themselves at risk, Chang said, adding that the department discourages such behavior.
In related news, the department on Friday last week introduced bidirectional zebra crossings at the intersection of Zhongxiao E Road and Fuxing S Road, and a section along Songshou Road in Xinyi District (信義) near the Chianti Plaza shopping district.
The crossings feature arrows advising pedestrians to stay on one side of the crossings.
Chang said the design was modelled after some US and UK cities and is capable of boosting an intersection’s efficiency by 25 percent, or by 45 percent during peak hours.
The time allotted for people to cross the roads would not be reduced after the introduction of the new crossings, as the design is aimed at speeding up the flow of traffic, he added.
The design can also reduce physical contact between people crossing the road, he said.
Department officials urged people to follow the directions at the new crossings, saying that most people have ignored the advisory arrows since their introduction.
The department plans to introduce two more bidirectional zebra crossings: One at the intersection of Guanqian Road and Zhongxiao W Road near the Taipei Railway Station, and another one at Zhongxiao Fuxing intersection.
Meanwhile, the department plans to install “advanced driver assistance systems” on buses to improve passenger safety.
The systems are close-circuit cameras that can detect changes in facial expressions — for example increased blinking suggesting that a driver is dozing off — and would sound an alarm to prevent accidents, Chang said.
Chang said the systems would likely have the ability to “learn” expressions that suggest fatigue and would warn drivers when they fail to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
The department is to ask for tender offers for the project, with a trial run involving 50 buses scheduled for the second half of this year.
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