The sheer volume and walking pace of pedestrians in Australia’s major cities can make walking to work feel more like a race.
Pedestrian crossings at busy intersections are populated by large clusters of eager commuters awaiting the flashing-green-man that allows them to restart the competition and rush to the other side of the road.
The duration of walk times appears to have decreased in recent years, and it is quite common for people to still be in the process of crossing the road by the time the flashing-red-man has appeared.
Older people and Australians living with a disability often require modification and special allowances in order to remain active, and one of the most innovative examples of how we can improve their travel experience comes from Singapore.
More than 400 pedestrian crossings in Singapore come equipped with a sensor that allows seniors and people living with disabilities to ‘tap-on’ and have an extended amount of time to safely cross the road.
Titled Green Man +, the sensor allows people with elderly and disability concession cards to tap their card on a sensor that is mounted above the regular ‘push button’ on the traffic light pole, which extends the green-man time from anywhere between 3- 13 seconds depending on the size of the crossing.
The initiative was created by the Singaporean Land Transport Authority (LTA) and was created to address the needs of elderly people and people living with disabilities who may require more time to cross the road than others.
People over the age of 60, and those living with a diagnosed disability can apply for concession cards which provide discounts and allowances for a variety of different services, businesses and activities around the country.
Studies from both the US and the UK show that the majority of healthy people over the age of 60 are incapable of crossing the road in the allotted green-man walk time, which can discourage walking and increases the risk of injury while walking.
The Green Man + initiative began in 2009 and continues to wow tourists visiting Singapore who would like to see a similar system implemented in their own countries.
In a world that continually looks to increase speed and efficiency, it’s not surprising that the idea of purposely slowing down suddenly feels innovative, but it’s undeniable that this system or something very similar could result in safer outcomes for many here in Australia.