Over the years, cities in developing countries, especially in Sub Saharan African have been dealing with the challenges of pedestrians crossing the roads instead of making use of pedestrian overhead bridges or underpasses, where available.
In many major transport hubs within the city of Lagos, pedestrians cross the road freely with little or no regard for safety considerations. Some of the factors responsible for crossing the roads instead of utilizing the pedestrian bridges, where available and as mentioned by pedestrians, include deteriorated conditions of the bridges, lack of security to lives and properties on the bridge, the unfriendly nature of the bridges (number of steps) and congestion.
In designing and implementation of road infrastructure in the city, priority is sometime misguided and biased on income disparity. For example, in the design of improved Lekki – Epe Expressway, a pedestrian overhead bridge was closely constructed to Victoria Garden City (VGC), a high income neighbourhood where car ownership and access to other modes of private transportation is high. On the other hand, residents of Ikota, a low-income community with little access to private cars on the same route, have made several representations to both the road concessionaire/contractor and the government on the need to provide pedestrian bridge on Ikota section of the expressway. Such representations are yet to yield result despite evidences of road related fatalities presented by the residents.
Previously, government responses to pedestrians crossing in Lagos are erection of road barriers (mesh wire fence, prominently) on the road medians and arrest of pedestrians that crossed the roads. Although, these two approaches are still prevalent, but other models such as construction of new pedestrian bridges with roof cover, lighting system and ramp for physically challenged individuals, and provision of security personnel on the bridges have been introduced which have reduced the rate of road crossing in some hotspots, especially Ojota. Despite these measures, many pedestrians still find it preferable to cross the roads which means the government need to look beyond current strategies.
Resolving this age long urban challenge, many cities have implemented innovative and sustainable models where pedestrians cross the road through overhead bridges that afford excellent shopping opportunities. In this case, bridges are built into the mall or malls are used as the bridge serving as attraction to the pedestrian from the entry to exit point. In many cases, such pedestrian bridges always take their roots from the transport stations. Ojota and Onipanu in Lagos are good places where this innovation can be implemented. Construction of user friendly bridges through the use of escalators are another best practice some cities are adopting to attract pedestrians. This should be a good option for Lagos, provided there is sustainable energy base to support the infrastructure. Some cities, however, implement hybrid or multiple best practices of the foregoing approaches to deter pedestrian road crossing.
Underpass is also widely used in cities to promoting pedestrian safety against road crossing. Apart from Independence underpass at Maryland and locked tunnel on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos city is not popular with underpass and tunneling infrastructure system. Based on its population and high development density, the option is worth exploring but with consideration to local physical and technical factors.
The pictures and videos below show pedestrians’ crossing infrastructure in Lagos, Nigeria, Coventry, United Kingdom and Stuttgart in Germany.
Pictures contributions in Lagos by Ayotunde Akomolafe and Abiola Falaye.