The road crossings in Hong Kong project a red light onto the sidewalk's edge for pedestrian safety

Red lights are projected onto the sidewalk to ensure pedestrian safety

July 27, 2022: -In a city where pedestrian stuck to their phones are liable to walk into traffic, the “red man” at crosswalks has their back.

Devices installed at several road crossings in Hong Kong project a red light onto the sidewalk’s edge. Any pedestrians standing there whenever the “Don’t Walk” alert is engaged in a pilot project to improve pedestrian safety.

The devices address prevalent pedestrian risk factors like “inattentiveness” and “heedless crossing,” which have been worsened by the growing phone use in the city, the Hong Kong Transport Department said in an email.

According to the department, the Chinese territory of 7.4 million recorded seven pedestrian deaths from January to June. Jaywalkers face a pay of 2,000 Hong Kong dollars.

The devices installed on traffic lights at seven crosswalks in a few parts of Hong Kong monitoring for efficiency. The system will be implemented more widely if the six-month testing period succeeds. 

Similar projects inspired the initiative in other countries, the Transport Department said. Many cities in mainland China have equipped crosswalks with LED lights that shine up from the road to keep distracted jaywalkers alert.

The latest survey by NBC News in the Causeway Bay area of Hong Kong found that out of 100 pedestrians who entered a crosswalk with the new device, at least half interacted with their cellphones. 

Nick Chau said that he was eager when he experienced the “unique” lights and took a couple of pictures with his girlfriend.

“I’ve seen the lights which pop up on my friends’ Instagram, but it’s my first time to see them,” he said. “Most of my friends say it’s interesting, and it could help them while walking with their phone.”

Adrian Chan snapped a few pictures of the lights, which he said have “become a bit of a landmark already.”

He said he did not think the lights were helpful personally, but “maybe subconsciously, all the red lights helping stop people from jaywalking.”

Others did not notice the lights until following they were pointed out.

Ian Brownlee, the managing director of the Hong Kong planning consultancy Masterplan Limited and a member of the Citizens Task Force on Land Utilization, added that while the lights could help, pedestrians in the crowded city face other safety issues, like narrow sidewalks.

“In areas where there is a crossing and pedestrians have to wait for lights to change, it can be made a congestion point, and jaywalking is generally a problem in these areas,” he said.

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