Why walking in the middle of the road is safer by Clevern Liddell

By Clevern Liddell

Normally, we walk on one side of the road, left side or right side. My colleague Alejandro gave me some good advice once and told me to always walk in the direction of the oncoming traffic. Did you know that? Do you always do it? Am I safe doing this?

According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), on average, for every 100,000 individuals in Guyana, 34 persons die each year on the road. For the Latin American and Caribbean region, IDB statistics reveal an average of 17 deaths per 100,000 individuals across the region. In Guyana, pedestrians represent the highest percentage (30%) of deaths among road users according to the World Health Organization. How’s that for walking on the sides of the road?

During last week, I was on my way to work one morning along the East Bank Demerara (EBD) Roadway in Guyana. Anyone who lives along the EBD knows how frustrating early morning traffic can be. We were almost at the end of the long traffic line and there on the right-hand side of the four-lane road I observed a young woman and her daughter of about three years old.

From my vantage point, I saw her lift her daughter up under her arms, secure her school bags and make a bolt across the road as if she herself were clad in a traffic police’s uniform forcing the oncoming traffic to halt in whichever direction it was flowing. “Oh my goodness!” I shrieked…The truck had stopped abruptly and so did we. This brave mother managed to quickly cross two lanes of traffic and make a pit stop at the median for her next attempt to cross the other two lanes.


Pedestrian Overhead Crossing (installation in progress) (Photo Credit: Clevern Liddell)

Surprisingly enough, the area where this incident took place is called Houston, a small neighbourhood along the EBD roadway and home to one of the largest container ports in the country as well as a secondary school immediately opposite its entrance, a nursery school and a gas station nearby.

Houston is also one of the areas that will benefit from the construction of a new Pedestrian Overhead Crossing along the EBD Road, the first in the country, funded with support from IDB’s Country Office in Guyana.

Civil works began earlier in June 2017 with a plan to install a total of five (5) new Pedestrian Overhead Crossings along the EBD Road. The Bank is financing the total cost of construction and supervision amounting to about US$2.2 million. In addition, these crossings will benefit from unique features including a solar powered back-up lighting system along with elevators to facilitate the elderly, pregnant women and people with disability.

Now thinking about the young mother and daughter who daringly crossed the road… if they were walking in the middle of the road above the traffic, seems like that might be safer, what do you think? How many more Pedestrian Overhead Crossings need to be installed?

At night, Pedestrian Overhead Crossing at Houston, EBD (Photo Credit: Neilon Dias)

The IDB continues to improve lives in Guyana by making roads safer. This landmark project is expected to be completed during the first semester of 2018 with all five Pedestrian Overhead Crossings fully outfitted and operational helping to reduce exposure of pedestrians to fatal road incidents.

Almost completed: Pedestrian Overhead Crossing at Providence, EBD (Photo Credit: Clevern Liddell)


About Clevern Liddell, Stimulator of positive change:

Clevern works in the Operations Department at the IDB Country Office in Guyana. As an Operations Senior Analyst, she provides key inputs for the Bank’s portfolio analysis and works with various development projects across multiple sectors including transport, trade and public-sector management. Passionate about sustainable development, everyday she gets to share her expertise in project management and procurement to help deliver project results to Guyanese beneficiaries which improves lives. Clevern comes from a consulting background and is an advocate for evidenced-based decision making, strategic planning, innovative ideas, and results. Clevern has a BSc in Economics , holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Bradford and a Diploma in Procurement and Supply from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS). While cooking has been her lifelong hobby she continues to enjoy a good discussion on issues as well as solutions to development challenges.



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