Israelis Afraid to Cross the Street, Poll Shows

An elderly man crosses the street in Tel Aviv. (Serge Attal/Flash90, Illustrative)

Israelis are by and large afraid to cross the street – with good reason, according to the Or Yarok road safety advocacy group. A new poll by the group shows 46 percent of Israelis say they feel unsafe when crossing the street, fearing that a driver who is in a rush will strike them down. Forty-two percent said they or someone they knew had been injured or nearly injured when they crossed the street over the past years, and that included individuals who crossed the street at a proper crosswalk.

The poll was released Friday, timed to coincide with World Walking Day, to encourage walking for a healthier lifestyle. The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity such as walking, but according to Or Yarok, Israelis living in cities could have a hard time doing that because of the dangers to them on city streets. “What should be a healthy activity has become a dangerous risk that places us as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for pedestrians,” the group said.

The statistics unfortunately bear out those fears, the group said. Since the beginning of 2017 through the end of September, 91 pedestrians were killed (out of a total of 313 killed in all road accidents), compared to 88 through the end of September 2016. Of the pedestrians killed, nearly half were killed while crossing a street at a crosswalk – where cars are legally required to stop if a pedestrian is crossing. Forty-five percent of those killed were aged 65 or older, most of them from the Jewish sector. Of the children up to age 14 killed, most were from the Arab sector, the numbers show. Sixty-seven percent of pedestrians killed crossing the street were killed inside cities, the large majority during daytime hours.

Erek Kita, chairperson of Or Yarok, said that “the bottom line is that walking in Israel, something as simple as crossing the street, is dangerous. The solution is cheap and simple – placing speed bumps before dangerous crosswalks. With speed bumps, the force of a vehicle hitting a pedestrian will be lessened, and the likelihood that a victim will survive will be much greater.

“The Transport Ministry must work with local authorities to determine which crosswalks should have these speed bumps installed, and to improve the infrastructure around dangerous intersections. We cannot afford to wait for the next victim.”