Pedestrian safety is one of the main determinants for walkabilty.
Astana’s government has incorporated pedestrian-friendly mechanisms into the city’s transportation network. On Turan Avenue for example, with the push of a button, pedestrians can instantaneously stop traffic barrelling down the four-lane thoroughfare. Displays appear and count the number of seconds that pedestrians have to cross. Some crosswalks have embedded, illuminated, and intermittent lights, while all have visible signs.
That said, design and engineering flaws, combined with motorist habits, reduce pedestrian safety in Astana. Typically, pedestrians only have about thirty seconds to proceed through a crosswalk. On secondary roadways, most crosswalks do not have lights, and while vehicles will slow to permit pedestrians to cross, they rarely come to a complete stop. For this reason it is quite common to see pedestrians walk out in front of moving traffic (this can be somewhat nerve-racking for foreigners).
A related problem is the rate at which vehicles drive through parking lots. To avoid rush hour congestion, drivers often cut through lots, honking to let pedestrians know that they have no intention of braking. This can be quite dangerous as pedestrians often walk through lots when the parallel sidewalks are narrow or non-existent.
Furthermore, the speed at which vehicles enter and exit parking spaces is worrisome. In some high-rise apartment complexes, lots stand between residential buildings and the complex’s playground, soccer green, or basketball court. Children are often inclined to play in the lots, as well as in the designated play areas – balls often roll out into the lots, and bicycles are sometimes left lying about. The use of a parking lot as a playground creates an increase in the chance of conflict for a collision between a vehicle and a child, and a back-up type accident in particular.
As Astana develops it will surely take action to address these systemic and habitual problems. How has your city improved pedestrian safety? What recommendations do you have for Astana? What are some regulation-based and education-based solutions? Comment here or on Twitter! Share on Facebook!
Credits: Photographs by Sunny Menozzi. Data linked to sources.