H. Kishie Singhgood motoring
More light on traffic sense
H. Kishie Singh

many years ago, while on traffic duty I saw a Dear Old Lady (D.O.L) meandering across the street. I rushed out to help her cross the road. Once safely across I said, "Aunty" (I was much younger those days!), "please use the zebra crossings". The D.O.L gave me a pitying look and said, "Beta we don’t have zebras in this country!". This from a well-educated, English-speaking lady living in Chandigarh. It is a good indicator of the level of awareness of our citizens regarding motoring matters, traffic and personal safety.

Now the unsuspecting public is going to have to deal with a pelican. The pelican is a bird and I doubt if we have any in this part of the world. Traffic experts are now "experimenting" with pelican lights. The word the ‘experts’ are looking for is Pelicon lights not Pelican. Pelicon is a portmanteau of three words : Pe-destrian Li ght Con-troll = Pelicon.

No one in Chandigarh has heard of this traffic management system so it will be a counterproductive move. It will be misused and soon enough fall into disrepair, if not vandalised sooner. There has to be an awareness programme. Will that work? Of course, not! Pelicon lights are flashing lights atop a pole at zebra crossings. Two illuminated pictograms face the pedestrian. One shows a man standing still in red meaning "not safe to cross". The motorist has a green light. Pedestrian pushes a button, the pictogram turns green and shows man walking indicating "safe to cross". Motorist gets red light. Cars stop and pedestrians can cross safely. This is the theory. It works very well in developed countries where people are educated, responsible and disciplined.

If the police and experts want to see how a Pelicon light works, or does not work, go to the Sector-18 Government Girls School. The light was installed about 10 years ago. It never worked. Simply because the people did not know what it was meant for. It is in disuse and vandalised. It shows the man in red standing still and an amber flashing light for the motorist. Motorists whizz by at speed disregarding the safety of pedestrians. Experiment with Pelicon lights over. It was an exercise in futility, a complete flop.

What may work, keeping in mind the Indian attitude and level of awareness and education, is a Belisha beacon. What is a Belisha beacon? It is a black-and-white painted steel pole at zebra crossings and has constantly flashing amber light housed in a globe. Why a globe? It has a 360 degree visibility and can be seen from any angle by motorists, pedestrians or cyclists. It flashes constantly, no buttons to push, no waiting for lights to change. To warn the motorists that he is approaching a zebra crossing a series of zig-zag white lines are painted on either side of the road, 20-30 metres before the flashing Belisha beacon.

A good example of flashing warning lights is on Jan Marg at the staggered intersection from Sector 9 to Sector 10. They flash 24x7. Motorists please note, at a zebra crossing the pedestrian has absolute right of way. The motorist must come to a complete halt and allow the pedestrians to cross.

Happy Motoring!