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

Time to cross the road!

Summary

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.

Reporter:

Anna Holligan

zebra crossing in Barcelona

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

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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.

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Vocabulary

authorities

organisations or governmental departments

guidelines

rules or official advice

sustainable

conserving or maintaining (a good environment)

a leisurely pace

a casual speed and not hurried

willing

prepared

system

procedures

huge scale

very large area (across the whole country)

patient

able to wait without becoming annoyed or anxious