Why the colour for pedestrian crossings changed

State Minister for Transport, Eng. Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, paints a crosswalk to kick-start the countrywide exercise yesterday. Courtesy.

The pedestrian crossings on Kigali’s major roads have been changed from zebra stripes to red and white a response to appeals by road users to increase their visibility.

This was said Thursday by the State Minister for Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, during a news conference, during which he stressed that the change in colour was also done to emphasise respect for pedestrian pathways especially by motorists.

Speaking shortly after officially kick-starting the countrywide repainting exercise, yesterday, Uwihanganye said pedestrians are among the majority victims of road accidents, and to reverse the trend there is need for emphasis on their rights on road.

The painting, started last weekend with major roads in Kigali city, including the Kigali International Airport Road.

“Some pedestrians are knocked while recklessly crossing the road. On the other hand, motorists have raised concern that the zebra stripes are not clear; so we came up with a new idea of increasing visibility at the same time emphasising the rights for pedestrians by painting red and white,” Uwihanganye said.

He added: “Colour red means danger, and we are telling motorists that look, speeding through these crossings poses danger to another person, you will be shedding someone’s blood.”

Uwihanganye said the exercise will be conducted on all roads in the country and will also see an increase in pedestrian crossings as part of the ongoing efforts to check road carnage.

The new crossings also have beacons on both sides, which guide pedestrians on entry and exit points while crossing the road.

“We are also telling pedestrians to use provided pathways while crossing or using the main road. This is because, under the new traffic law, if enacted, pedestrians will also face varied penalties if they are found to be the cause of the accident,” the state minister said.

“Roads are built for all people; drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. Let everyone use them responsibly respecting traffic signs and rights of others. Everyone will be penalised for their reckless behaviour on the road.”

Rwanda National Police (RNP) spokesperson, Commissioner of Police John Bosco Kabera, said the “red and white stripes send a strong message to motorists that these are dangerous areas to them but safe for pedestrians.”

“The general approach to prevent road accidents is to reach out to every category of road users, and ensure that their rights on the road are observed. Preventing accidents is a national policy that we are implementing through educating all people on traffic rules, deploying new technologies in traffic control but also penalising errant road users,” Kabera said.

Road users speak

Célestin Ntihanabayo, a pedestrian The New Times found around Gishushu in Kigali, welcomed the move saying that the colours are helpful, especially at night.

“This is helpful to pedestrians because when the driver reaches the crosswalk the red colour will alert them to reduce the speed. It is, however, too early to say whether the changes will be the sustainable solution to road problems,”Uwizeye added.

Viateur Uwizeye, a motorcyclist, said that the red colour is more visible than black and white, adding that the changes will help motorists to be alert before they reach the crosswalk.

He believes that the initiative will reduce accidents that were being caused by speeding motorcyclists.

Fidèle Uwizeye, a driver who spoke to The New Times, also welcomed the move.

“Red will most certainly attract the attention of motorists and will see them stop or drive carefully. The new colours are more visible to everyone,” he said.