Make Ring Road pedestrian-friendly

Kathmandu, February 8

Stakeholders have said that the ongoing expansion of Ring Road overlooks pedestrian safety.

At an interaction on the expansion of Ring Road today, road engineers, experts and government officials  suggested that various measures could be taken to make the road more  pedestrian- friendly and less accident prone.

The ongoing ring road expansion is being carried out by the Shanghai Construction Group with grant assistance from the Chinese government, which has proposed to build six overhead bridges for pedestrians, in the ongoing expansion of 10.4 km Koteshwor-Kalanki stretch. The total length of the Ring Road is 27 km.

Speaking at the programme, head of foreign cooperation branch at the Department of Roads Sanjay Kumar Shrestha, who is also the director of Ring Road expansion project, said the department was ready to conduct research and undertake intensive study to ensure road safety and make the road more pedestrian-friendly.

Shrestha also said that the department will build additional six overhead bridges for pedestrians and necessary zebra crossings in the area. Participants of the programme said that there should be a zebra crossing every 250 metres as per the international road safety standards.

Member secretariat of Nepal Engineering Association Laxman KC said, “We have to decide whether the road that we are constructing is an express way or urban road. This is the first step that will help determine the construction model of roads.”

Tulsi Sitaula, former director general of DoR, said the Ring Road was first constructed to be used as a highway and the government had asked China to expand it accordingly. “This was a faulty decision of the government. We should have known that the road would be inaccessible to the people if expanded in a highway style, but we didn’t realise it then, but we can still work to make the construction pedestrian-friendly.

Laxman KC of NEA also spoke about the importance of median that enhances road safety. Medians are divider blocks or a separated wide area on the road that divides roads into two separate lanes. The medians can be used for beautification purpose by planting trees.

Apart from this, it could also be useful as a traffic islands, especially if the roads are too wide, where passersby can safely wait for the signal to change or wait for the traffic to pass.

Locals of the Balkumari area said that they were facing difficulty crossing the road. A resident of Kharibot said they had to either walk one kilometre towards Koteshower or almost one kilometre towards Gwarko to cross the road.

Some participants of the programme demanded that there should be proper cycle lane with at least 1.5 meter width on both sides of the road. Similarly, participants of the programme also demanded that the government start awareness programmes on road safety and traffic rules.