Most of the Dhaka pedestrians believe that when they step onto zebra crossings, motorised vehicles are bound to lower their speed, thus allowing them to get to the other side of the road safely. The stunning fact is few people have ever seen the motorised vehicles give the pedestrians this opportunity. Given this grim reality defining the Dhaka city, lots of smart and educated people cross the roads carefully. They do not expect that small, medium or large motorised vehicles will bother to slow down while they cross roads. All this boils down to the conclusion that unless the drivers are made to abide by a specific traffic law related to their conduct as they approach the zebra crossings, the white striped mid-road corridor is set to remain a 'safe passage' on paper, not in practice.
Instead of bringing discipline to the perennially chaotic roads, the nonfunctional zebra crossings nowadays set off fears of accidents. The cautious people frantically search for a zebra passage, many with faded colour. And finding one they start crossing the busy road in full confidence. In most cases, these attempts end up being a confused situation on the part of both the pedestrians and drivers. On occasions, with both parties sticking to their respective stances, zebra crossings are seen as ideal venues for accidents. Like many other areas in the Dhaka traffic situation, the one related to zebra crossings also remains complicated and perplexing to the road crossing and law abiding public.
Why the general people do not want to use the foot over-bridge is a different case. It has a lot to do with a nation compulsively in love with short-cuts. Like the general people in other sectors, the road users also love to avoid the time-killing and tiring exercises in climbing up the stairs of an overpass and stepping down. This is sheer skirting of law.
It is incumbent upon the law enforcers' traffic division to clearly spell out the functions and utility of the capital's zebra crossings. In all other countries, vehicles lower their speed upon seeing a person or a group of persons crossing a road through a zebra crossing. Why this basic rule is not followed in Dhaka is riddling.
If this vital safety-assuring measure remains a mere rituality with no effectiveness, then the helpless road crossing pedestrians have little options before them except resorting to jaywalking. As feared, this reckless style of rushing to the other side of the road will only add to the road mishap fatalities. Lots of buses, cars, motorbikes etc these days defy manual signals of the traffic police with careless abandon. Auto-signals have long been turned urban showpieces. In such a void, how can crazy drivers resist the urge to run over floating people deep asleep on the footpaths? In an anarchic traffic situation like this, properly functioning zebra crossings are nothing but a pipe dream.
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