Thumbs up for elder-friendly road zones

ESM Goh and Mrs Teo yesterday unveiled the eighth and latest Silver Zone, this one at Marine Crescent and Marine Terrace. It has features to slow traffic down to make it safer for elderly pedestrians to cross the road.
ESM Goh and Mrs Teo yesterday unveiled the eighth and latest Silver Zone, this one at Marine Crescent and Marine Terrace. It has features to slow traffic down to make it safer for elderly pedestrians to cross the road.PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

LTA plans to have 50 such 'safe crossing areas' by 2023 in places with high population of seniors

Good feedback has led the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to ramp up its Silver Zone scheme, which comprises road safety features for the elderly.

Fifty zones are planned by 2023, up from the previous target of 35 zones by 2020.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong announced this at the launch of the eighth and latest Silver Zone, at Marine Crescent and Marine Terrace, yesterday morning.

"When Marine Parade was built in 1973, 1974, our planners were young, Singapore was young, and the people in Marine Parade were young," he quipped.

But as the decades passed , "we realised that we must do something to make the estate elder-friendly".

He noted that the Silver Zone scheme, announced in 2014, is part of the Government's efforts to make Singapore "a city for all ages".

The completed Silver Zone was unveiled by Mr Goh and Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo.

Like other such zones around Singapore, it has features to slow traffic down to make it safer for elderly pedestrians. For instance, a mini roundabout has replaced a T-junction along Marine Terrace to regulate turning traffic.

There are "pinch points" where the road narrows to make drivers slow down. At these points, the LTA has put in place courtesy crossings. These informal crossings are barrier-free and come with ramps to make it easier for seniors and wheelchair-users to cross.

The success of these measures depends ultimately on how considerate both drivers and pedestrians are to each other, added Mr Goh.

Resident Francis Teo, 79, welcomed the new measures, noting that senior citizens like himself are not the only ones who will benefit. "It will also be safer for the children going to (the nearby) Tao Nan School," he said.

A 77-year-old resident who wanted to be known only as Madam Ivy said: "The ramps are a good idea, they make it easy to cross."

The expansion of the scheme builds upon the success of the seven Silver Zones completed before the one in Marine Parade.

"We have received very, very good feedback so far... about how road access and movement of the elderly has improved," LTA chief executive officer Chew Men Leong told reporters at the event.

The number of road accidents has also fallen in Silver Zone locations, he added.

The LTA is in the process of identifying the additional 15 Silver Zones to be built.

In general, areas chosen for the scheme are those with a high population of senior residents, relatively higher accident rates involving seniors, and amenities which seniors frequent, such as wet markets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 03, 2016, with the headline 'Thumbs up for elder-friendly road zones'. Print Edition | Subscribe