Fading road crossings pose increasing danger to pedestrians

Substandard pedestrian crossings were found in virtually every neighborhood in Haifa.

Dozens of pedestrian crossings around Haifa are faded, unclear or erased and pose a safety danger to residents, according to a survey conducted by the Hebrew weekly Yediot Haifa. The newspaper found substandard pedestrian crossings in virtually every neighborhood of the city, with the situation worst in the ultra-religious neighborhoods, where it was difficult to find a single clearly marked pedestrian crossing. According to the newspaper, the Haifa municipality is responsible for 418 square kilometers of paved roads and 165 square kilometers of sidewalks, and the city has a special budget dedicated to the marking of roads with pedestrian crossings. Yet despite renovations having been done in several areas recently, many pedestrian crossings remain unpainted and unclear. A municipal spokesman said that for the past four years the city had been running a project to rehabilitate long-neglected roads, sidewalks and infrastructure, with the emphasis on increasing the safety of pedestrians and drivers. The spokesman said the city was widening sidewalks and main roads, constructing traffic islands and roundabouts, placing posts on sidewalks to prevent vehicles from parking there and hindering pedestrians, and increasing lighting at intersections and along busy roads. He said the work had already been done in many neighborhoods and would continue in the remaining areas. The spokesman also said statistics showed that most pedestrians injured in accidents had actually been hurt at pedestrian crossings, and that this danger grew when there was more than one pedestrian crossing in a particular street. He said specialists had concluded that in such cases it was better not to have pedestrian crossings at all, and the city had asked the Transport Ministry to approve a budget for the construction of traffic lights on a number of streets known to be dangerous for pedestrians. The spokesman also said that pedestrian crossings needed to be repainted twice a year, at a cost to the city of NIS 2 million every year. He added that in the vicinity of schools and other educational institutions, this work would be done just before the start of the coming school year. "The paints used in Israel fade and are even erased within a few months," the spokesman said. "The city was a partner to an experiment led by the Transport Ministry to try different types of paints and painting techniques, but the results were not significant. Now, together with the National Authority for Road Safety, the city is checking the feasibility of making pedestrian crossings stand out by using colored asphalt and roughened road surfaces. The city is also testing the possibility of using flashing lights and signs at pedestrian crossings."