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Last updated at 15:30 BST, Tuesday, 03 July 2012

Time to cross the road!


3 July 2012

How long does it take to cross the road? This is not a joke, it's a serious question. And in the Netherlands they think they've found the answer. However, with a growing population of over 60s, some say the system needs to change to allow more time for everyone to cross safely.


Anna Holligan

zebra crossing in Barcelona

Do you need more than 20 seconds to cross the road?


Click to hear the report


Anna: At this busy crossing near the centre of town and just outside a hospital, you've got around 20 seconds to make it across the road.
Hillie: My name is Hillie Talens, and I work as a project manager for CROW.
Anna: So you're in control of all this, all these roads basically?
Hillie: In the end road authorities and other people use our guidelines to make the Netherlands more beautiful and sustainable, etc.
Anna: We're standing at some lights now, they've just turned green.
Hillie: So we start walking and we can walk with a speed of 0.8 metres per second and reach the other side, so not so fast.
Anna: Not so fast. We're walking at quite a leisurely pace… but it's flashing already.
Hillie: So what?
Anna: So we're only half way across the road.
Hillie: But they don't drive, they don't try to kill us. So we're here, it's red, we're here, they're still not driving!
Anna: But it's not enough time for everyone. And it's not just the elderly who are having problems getting across on time.
Joella: My name is Joella, I'm not walking slow, but sometimes it's going so fast, especially when I'm with my baby girl, I have a daughter, then I'm going to run because it's scared, yeah!
Anna: So would the authorities be willing to give the pedestrians more time?
Hillie: We could consider this but you can imagine how much time we will lose just by making some people feel more safe. It's just about feelings.
Anna: So the cost to changing the system would be the whole country would slow down?
Hillie: Yeah, if you look at a huge scale maybe the whole country will slow down.
Anna: So the drivers will just have to be patient.


Click to hear the vocabulary



organisations or governmental departments


rules or official advice


conserving or maintaining (a good environment)

a leisurely pace

a casual speed and not hurried





huge scale

very large area (across the whole country)


able to wait without becoming annoyed or anxious