Heavy pedestrian traffic along Bt Batok road where 4-year-old girl was killed

Heavy pedestrian traffic along Bt Batok road where 4-year-old girl was killed
Pedestrians walk across a divider along Bukit Batok Central, in front of no jaywalking sign, on Oct 11, 2017. Photo: Najeer Yusof/TODAY

Heavy pedestrian traffic along Bt Batok road where 4-year-old girl was killed

SINGAPORE — In the heart of Bukit Batok town, many pedestrians were spotted crossing the stretch of road where a four-year-old girl and her domestic helper were knocked down by a car on Monday (Oct 9).

The accident, which claimed the life of little Eleanor Tan Si Xuan and injured her minder, happened during evening rush hour along Bukit Batok Central towards Bukit Batok West Avenue 2.

A pedestrian overhead bridge stands near the accident site, but it was hardly used when TODAY visited the spot on Wednesday afternoon.

There was heavy pedestrian flow, and mostly elders and students were along the road, which is near major amenities such as the Bukit Batok MRT Station and West Mall shopping centre.

In the short period between 4pm and 4.10pm, only two of 34 people used the overhead bridge to cross the road. The rest chose to jaywalk. By law, you are considered to have jaywalked if you cross the road within 50m of a pedestrian overhead bridge or crossing.

Vehicle traffic was moderate. Many public buses and cars traverse the area, which was also used by a number of coaches, vans and lorries.

Those interviewed by TODAY said that they did not use the bridge because it was hard work, and the nearest traffic-light crossing is less than two minutes’ walk away.

Mr Low Ah Seng, 65, said that he has difficulty climbing the bridge because his legs are very weak. Seniors have “no choice” but to jaywalk, he added. Those who use shopping carts to run errands find it a hassle to use the overhead bridge as well, he noted.

Mrs Koh, 50, a part-time administrator who declined to give her full name, uses the bridge only if she is crossing the road when it rains or when she is with her teenage child. “Walking up the staircase, especially for the elderly, is tiring. Even though I exercise, it’s tiring,” she said.

Work is in progress to build a new elevator system, and a sheltered ramp and linkway to the overhead bridge. They are expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, a signboard at the bridge stated.

A retired operations supervisor, who identified himself as just Mr Ho, 66, believes that more children and elders would use the bridge once the lift is in operation.

The Bukit Batok resident called on the authorities to put up railings along the central road divider as a safety measure, to prevent pedestrians from jaywalking. He pointed out that if there are no railings, even if there is a lift for the bridge, it is “again the same story” and people would still jaywalk.

Other residents such as Madam Jessie Keng, 50, a part-time property agent who has lived in the estate for 18 years, agreed on this point. This is because people will always choose the easiest route to get across.

A resident in his 60s, who did not want to be identified, said that he would not use the lift at the bridge even if there is one, because it would be “inconvenient and slow”.

The number of road accidents involving jaywalkers has gone up, statistics showed. In the first half of this year, there was a 21 per cent jump in such cases, with older road users making up a worrying 30 per cent of the casualties.

In a press statement on Wednesday, the traffic police said that there were 161 accidents involving jaywalkers from January to June, up from 133 in the same period last year.

They also highlighted that more than half of fatal accidents in the first six months of this year involved elderly pedestrians who jaywalked.

News of the latest Bukit Batok accident appears to have heightened awareness of road safety in the community.

Secondary 4 student Alex Shin, 15, from the nearby Bukit View Secondary, told TODAY that his chemistry teacher spoke to his class this week about staying safe on the road and not to jaywalk.

“People think (accidents) won’t happen to them... If (pedestrian behaviour) doesn’t change, this will continue,” he said.