Monday morning a 56-year-old woman was crossing the road illegally near the west end of the Xihua Tunnel and was hit by a car, with the collision breaking her pelvis.
The accident itself was not unusual, but it did get Kunming Information Hub to take a look into why the woman was crossing the street illegally. The government-run news website's conclusion: pedestrians and cyclists are going where they shouldn't go because there are no convenient options.
Cities undergoing the kind of rapid change experienced by Kunming over the last 10 years often have growing pains, but it has become impossible even for government-run local media to ignore the fact that while more and more space has been handed over to cars, the needs of pedestrians and cyclists have largely been overlooked.
Almost anywhere one goes in town, it is easy to see people illegally crossing the road, but it is not always the pedestrians' fault. On many Kunming roads, crossing at the nearest intersection as one is supposed to do is often significantly more dangerous than doing so at a non-legal crossing. In other places, as Kunming Information Hub notes, there are simply no legal ways for pedestrians or cyclists to continue down some major roads.
In addition to the lack of consideration of pedestrian and cyclist needs in the recent road infrastructure overhaul by government planners, the average Kunming motorist ignores the significance of marked crosswalks (zebra crossings) – assuming that the crosswalks are still visible. This seems to discourage the average pedestrian from crossing where they're being told to do so.
There are signs that the city government is trying to break out of a car-centric development model – a bicycle path is being built around Dianchi Lake and construction recently began on Kunming's first two metro lines - but with 900 newly registered motorized vehicles hitting the streets daily, it may be a while before pedestrians and cyclists feel that they are being considered as part of the city's future.© Copyright 2005-2017 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.