Kaohsiung delays traffic lights to aid older residents

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - Page 3

Kaohsiung’s traffic lights are staying red longer at over 180 intersections to allow its aging population more time to cross city streets, an official at the Kaohsiung Transportation Bureau said on Sunday.

In the past, the time allotted for pedestrians to cross a street was calculated at a speed of one meter per second, but the formula has now been adjusted to 80 centimeters per second, said Wang Chih-kang (王志綱), head of the bureau’s Intelligent Transportation Center.

The initiative, which began at the end of last year and has been carried out at 188 intersections, gives people 50 seconds to get across a 40m road crossing, compared with 40 seconds in the past, Wang said.

He said the time it takes to cross streets is regularly reviewed and extended due to the needs of the growing elderly population, and that this latest move should provide seniors with a more friendly environment for getting around the city on foot.

The city has also adopted diagonal crossings at intersections with larger numbers of pedestrians and vehicles, in which vehicular traffic in all directions is stopped at red lights, allowing people to cross in every direction, even diagonally, at the same time, Wang said.

Eight such diagonal crossings have been set up, mainly in commercial areas like the Shinkuchan Commercial District (新崛江商圈) and near public transport stations such as the city’s High Speed Rail and Taiwan Railways Administration stations, Wang said, adding that more such crossings are planned for intersections near schools for the convenience of students and parents.

According to Kaohsiung’s Statistical Information Network Web site, the number of people aged 65 and older in the city rose from 263,302 in 2007 to 373,604 in 2016.