Joe Daccache, vice president of road safety organization YASA International, told The Daily Star that in certain cases road bumps can be more dangerous to people’s lives than the alternative, potential speeders. He noted that they shouldn’t be placed on highways because this would contribute to more accidents.
“We are not completely for removing road bumps but there must be an engineering study for them, and we are for removing those placed without a [detailed impact] study,” Daccache told The Daily Star.
He said that before being laid, speed bumps need to be well-located and well-placed – for example, near schools, hospitals, pedestrian crossings or even construction sites.
“There is a norm for them. There should be signs warning of road bumps [that are placed at appropriate distances] depending on the speed limit,” Daccache said. “For example, if the speed limit is 80 kph, the warning sign can’t be positioned 50 meters before [the bump]. It should start at 200 meters and then 150 meters in order to give people a room to reduce speed.”
Even the construction of the road bump needs to done properly and with a set, standardized width and height. This, Daccache said, is important because road bumps mustn’t damage the vehicle or hurt the people inside it, but at the same time must serve their purpose.
Lena Gebran, vice president of road safety organization Kunhadi, also expressed her support for removing bumps from some locations, but maintained that in many cases they were a vital traffic calming measure.
“In Lebanon, the problem is that without bumps [drivers] will not behave. If there is an intersection and there are no bumps then they will continue driving and a car crash [is likely to] happen,” Gebran told The Daily Star. “I am with them being removed, but they should at least be kept on dangerous crossroads, intersections and in front of schools.”
She said that in some cases officials could replace bumps with reflective “cat’s eyes,” but warned that the impact may not be the same.
Nevertheless, the ministry’s decision has led to confusion among some over what roads are public and which are private or under local authority control.
The director-general of the Public Works Ministry, Tanios Boulos, told The Daily Star that the jurisdiction of the ministry only covers public roads.
Boulos also noted that Fenianos’ memo wasn’t something new but a reiteration of rulings by previous public works ministers.
Many bumps are also being placed without approval. “This is a violation of public property,” Boulos said. “Whether the municipalities, individuals or institutions placed a bump, this is considered to be a violation and it needs to be removed.”
However, when asked about the status of roads within certain towns or cities, Boulos replied: “Municipalities are responsible for those [streets] under their authority.”
Daccache also confirmed that highways and the Damascus Road are considered public.
“They are ones that fall under the ministry’s control and not under the scope of municipalities,” he said.