New flashing LED strips for pedestrians at 2 traffic-light crossings

SINGAPORE — The Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Tuesday (May 9) tested new features at two pedestrian crossings in the city, as part of a six-month trial to improve safety, in particular, to get distracted pedestrians to pay attention to traffic-light signals.

“Nowadays, people get very distracted, so this is to bring their focus back to the pedestrian crossing,” LTA said, adding that one scenario where road users are distracted is when they are walking and looking at their mobile devices.

To do this, Light Emitting Diode (LED) strips were put up on pavements near both sides of a crossing at two locations on Orchard Road and Victoria Street.

At the launch of the trial, LTA turned on the light strips slightly before 5pm. Operating in unison with the traffic lights, the strips switched between steady green, flashing green, and steady red.

Usually, pedestrians would look at the traffic lights opposite the crossing, but now the strips and their changing colours would be right where they are standing.

However, out of 23 pedestrians that TODAY spoke to at the Victoria Street crossing outside Bugis Junction mall, only four noticed the new feature.

Mr Matthias Lim, a 23-year-old student, said: “I was looking down because of the hot sun, but even though I was looking in the direction of (the strip), I didn’t notice it… The sun is too bright and the colour doesn’t show.”

Madam Lim Swee San, 65, who has been using a wheelchair for seven years, mentioned that for wheelchair-bound pedestrians like her who go out alone, it is indeed difficult to look past all the people in front of her to see the traffic lights, especially when it gets crowded, and that can be a safety concern. However, the strips were not very helpful because the sun made it difficult to see the light, and “old people like me can’t see very well”, she said.

Madam Catherine Tham, 34, an administrative personnel, noticed the new feature but did not know its function. “I noticed the red line and it’s definitely more visible on this side of the crossing because the strip is under the shade,” she said. “But I was wondering if Christmas came early and this is part of the decoration.”

The feature — once explained — was welcomed by pedestrians, who said that it would serve as “a good safety measure”.

Ms Jasmine Lee, 33, a pre-school teacher, said: “Right now, because they are new and people are unfamiliar with them, they may not serve their function that well.”

Thai tourist Karntida Rattayapichat, 23, commended the move to have the light strips: “It is a good idea by the Singapore Government to increase safety… it just takes time for people to get used to it.”

The other set of light strips can be found at the junction of Buyong Road and Orchard Road, near the Istana.