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ROAD SAFETY/Legislature passes new pedestrian sidewalk safety rule

04/16/2024 04:43 PM
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Kaohsiung pedestrians wait to cross the road in this CNA file photo
Kaohsiung pedestrians wait to cross the road in this CNA file photo

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan approved regulations on Tuesday aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety as part of Taiwan's efforts to redeem its reputation tarnished by an article that called its traffic a "living hell."

The new regulations require both the central and local governments to develop guidelines to enhance pedestrian safety by building, improving, and maintaining safe, unobstructed, and continuous pedestrian spaces along sidewalks.

Under the new rules, if local government officials find sidewalks or walkways obstructed by fixed equipment (such as transformer boxes) or other objects, they should notify the responsible party in writing and give the party at least three months to resolve the issue.

Failure to comply within the specified period may result in a fine ranging from NT$30,000 (US$922) to NT$150,000.

In addition, if the ground level of covered and uncovered pedestrian walkways are not of a single uniform level, local governments can order those sections to be rebuilt.

If there are unauthorized changes that impede pedestrian traffic after the rebuilding process, those who made the changes will be required to change the walkway back within a fixed time period or face a fine ranging from NT$5,000 to NT$25,000 each time.

Local governments, meanwhile, are required to establish pedestrian-friendly areas near congested places such as medical institutions, schools, and mass transportation stops, and to install sidewalks on roads of a certain width.

A pedestrian zone is designated for walkers in New Taipei City in this CNA file photo.
A pedestrian zone is designated for walkers in New Taipei City in this CNA file photo.

In a statement, Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said the regulation focuses on redesigning road layouts, connecting sidewalks, increasing pedestrian walking spaces, and removing obstacles from roads and accessible facilities.

The central government has launched a four-year NT$40 billion project to improve pedestrian safety, he said.

These measures were in part a reaction to an article by CNN published in December 2022 that focused on Taiwan's "dangerous roads" that are bad for both drivers and pedestrians.

One blogger cited in the story titled one of his Facebook posts "Taiwan is a living hell for pedestrians," referring to the many objects that block local sidewalks if they exist at all.

The article also referenced warnings issued by several countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United States, on Taiwan's road conditions.

(By Chen Chun-hua and Chao Yen-hsiang)

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