New road safety measures for elderly residents being explored

The Silver Zone scheme, which started in 2014 and has been implemented in 15 locations, aims to enhance road safety for the elderly. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The authorities are exploring new ways to make roads in neighbourhoods safer for the elderly. These measures include converting sections of roads into community spaces, and converting two-way roads to one-way ones.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) shared this with The Straits Times recently, after it called a tender earlier this month to set up 10 more Silver Zones around Singapore by the end of 2019.

The Silver Zone scheme, which started in 2014 and has been implemented in 15 locations, aims to enhance road safety for the elderly.

This is achieved though various safety measures, such as a reduced 40kmh speed limit, two-stage crossings so pedestrians can take "refuge" at the centre divider, and narrowing roads at crossings to get cars to slow down.

The 10 locations which the LTA has identified in the recent tender include Whampoa Drive, Upper Boon Keng Road, Chai Chee Road and Teck Whye Lane.

As part of the project, the LTA said, it "will also be exploring new road safety engineering features, which include community spaces where a section of the road is converted into an area with more walking and seating space for pedestrians".

Late last year, the LTA converted a 200m stretch of Commonwealth Drive from a two-way road to a one-way one. This is the first time the LTA has done so under the Silver Zone initiative.

With the conversion, the lane in the direction of Queensway has been cordoned off, while the lane heading towards Commonwealth Avenue is kept open. The Straits Times understands that, in time, the unused road will be converted to additional space for pedestrians.

"This arrangement helps to calm and regulate turning traffic, and, at the same time, reduce traffic conflict points between vehicles and pedestrians," said the LTA.

Residents such as housewife Doris Yap, 42, gave the thumbs up to the change. She said: "It's more convenient to cross the road now, as we do not have to look out for oncoming traffic in both directions."

Madam Badiah Karmin, 65, a retiree, said: "The roads here are not very busy but (the change) does add to the safety, as there are many elderly residents living in the area."

Ms Ye Fang, 46, who works in the service industry, also said: "Sometimes the cars do not come to a stop at the zebra crossings, so having only one direction of traffic is good."

But Ms Ye pointed out that it is harder to get a taxi in Commonwealth Drive now. This is because taxis coming into the estate from Commonwealth Avenue will bypass the converted stretch of Commonwealth Drive and instead go by Commonwealth Crescent to go to Queensway.

There are currently no plans to convert more two-way roads to one-way ones under the Silver Zone scheme. The LTA said: "Every Silver Zone is unique as the safety features are customised to the streetscape of each estate. These features remind motorists to slow down and look out for pedestrians, as well as urge senior pedestrians to exercise greater care when crossing the road."

The goal is to provide 50 locations with Silver Zones around the island by 2023.

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