Federal roads in Malaysia are one of the most travelled routes after expressways. However, unlike expressways, these main arterial roads acting as connectors between cities and towns are often built alongside residential areas thus generating pedestrian activities. The presence of at-grade unsignalised pedestrian crossings on roads with drastic changes in traffic patterns or upgraded roadways is a concern that requires attention to. In the light of the above statements, there is a need to study the Malaysian scenario on speed at unsignalised pedestrian crossings.
Marked crossings generally only improve safety where there is sufficient pedestrian and traffic flow to result in significant numbers of pedestrians making risky crossings when the marked crossing is absent. For example, Ward, 1992, (quoted in Ogden, 1996) suggests on the basis of British data that installation of refuges near pedestrian generators can reduce pedestrian accidents by as much as 60%, but where they are introduced at uncontrolled intersections, even for safety reasons, accidents are only reduced by 10%; if no safety reasons exist, accidents can increase. But risk at marked crossings is also very dependent on drivers respecting the need to stop for pedestrians, which should match the operating speed of the environment.
This study covers all of the four unsignalised pedestrian crossings on a primary arterial road, Federal route F005. Findings show that there are significant differences of vehicle speeds at the four unsignalised crossings. Mean speeds of vehicles were found to be lower in urban areas (60 km/h) as compared to rural areas (77 km/h), incidentally also school areas. In comparing the number of lanes, average speed differs significantly between two lanes and four lanes, where speeds were recorded to be lower at crossings on two lanes roads (65 km/h versus 73 km/h). For vehicle class, mean speed of passenger vehicles was found to be significantly higher (more than 70 km/h at three of the locations) than other vehicles (below 70 km/h) at all locations. In terms of presence of pedestrians, both urban and rural areas recorded higher mean speeds during presence of pedestrians, the figure is being significant for urban areas (p<0.001). Mean speeds for both areas in both situations of presence and non-presence of pedestrians, however, were within the gazette speed limit.
Analysis on speed limit violations revealed that at all four locations; speed limit violations were less in presence of pedestrians. In the presence of pedestrians, speed limit violations were also significantly lower on both sites with two lanes carriageway (11% compared to 47%%), and in comparing area type, the percentage of speed limit violations were higher in urban areas (51%) compared to rural areas (19%), possibly due to the lower speed limit set in these areas.
In conclusion, the overall findings of speed of vehicles approaching zebra crossing on federal road reveals that although majority of the vehicles were traveling within the posted speed limit, speed of vehicles at all crossing approaches, as well as on crossing were no where near the safe speed for pedestrians of 30 km/h or even 50 km/h (Pasanen, 1992). Similar findings are expected to be seen on roads designed for high speed traffic (i.e. primary roads that are non residential roads). In this, the review of speed patterns on roads is pertinent in the placement of type of pedestrian crossings. This is reflective in the instances when roads are upgraded or receive heavier traffic, necessary changes are required for the provision of pedestrian facilities. In consideration that only four unsignalised crossings were recorded along F005 in Selangor, it is, therefore advisable that these crossings are given consideration for upgrades to signalised crossings, or in cases where pedestrian volume is low and almost non-existent, these locations may instead use the uncontrolled crossing.