Tool aims to make pedestrians safer

KUALA LUMPUR: On the congested streets of Kuala Lumpur, pedestrians usually find themselves at the bottom of the pecking order. Not uncommon in Southeast Asia’s cities, the emphasis is on cars and keeping traffic moving, despite efforts to make the Malaysian capital more friendly for those on two legs.
“It is important that walkability isn’t a luxury (but) an essential component of equity and sustainability, particularly in the rapidly growing cities of the global south,” said Joe Chestnut of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a global think-tank.
Urban planners are looking into measures to cut road deaths and injuries but also at ways to ease traffic and encourage people to walk — all pressing issues as some two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, the United Nations says.
To help city officials tackle these challenges, Chestnut and his team designed a toolkit with 11 indicators for measuring how pedestrian-friendly a neighbourhood is.
They include the number of pedestrian crossings, the size of blocks, the amount of shade and the density of driveways for cars.
“Walkability is not just a sidewalk — it’s a whole system of design and infrastructure,” Chestnut said on the sidelines of the World Urban Forum in the Malaysian capital this month.
On a busy street in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Chestnut pointed to pedestrian overpasses as infrastructure that appears to be designed for those who walk but more often inconveniences them while allowing cars to speed on through.
— Reuters