For 20 school children, the pedestrian crossing on the Sinserstrasse has been a part of their daily commute to school. The crossing has now been removed, and worried parents are questioning the decision by the Security Directorate. A new report is now underway.
Due to surface damage and road surface deformations, the Sinserstrasse in the Matten area of Hünenberg was renovated between April to August. Not only were the two bus stops there dismantled, but the pedestrian crossing was also removed. The Construction and Safety Directorates of Zug then decided not to re-mark the pedestrian crossing after the renovation work was completed.
Local resident and mother Rahel Iten learned of this decision In mid-August and contacted the construction department to demand the restoration of the pedestrian crossing. And she’s not the only one who doesn’t accept the decision: according to her, more than 30 corresponding complaints have now been received by the Zug Safety Directorate.
This is a big problem, especially for the children: the pedestrian crossing at the "Matten" junction has existed for 30 years and, according to local residents, it offered a certain level of safety. Around 20 children and young people cross the Sinserstrasse every day on their way to school. The younger ones go in the direction of the Matten day school, while the older ones walk in the direction of Hünenberg, to the upper school.
This is the only place where the Sinserstrasse can be crossed on foot (note the pedestrian island on the right)
Rahel Iten waits with her children until she can cross the busy road. Photos: Matthias Jurt
Map showing pedestrian crossing location on the Sinserstrasse Google Maps
Former cantonal councillor (Kantonsrat) Thomas Villiger is also campaigning for the pedestrian crossing to be marked again. He says:
"It's not about a lot of children, but if something happens to one of them, that’s one too many."
The Sinserstrasse is a major road with an average daily traffic volume of over 10,300 vehicles (according to the 2017 census). Crossing the road safely at peak times is practically impossible for pupils, as no vehicle will stop unless there is a marked pedestrian crossing.
Four out of five requirements met
In response to Rahel Iten's complaint, construction director Florian Weber explained that traffic safety reasons have led to the removal of the pedestrian crossing on the Sinserstrasse. According to the Federal Office for Accident Prevention, a pedestrian crossing has to meet following five requirements in order to be safe:
Five requirements for a safe pedestrian crossing
- Visibility of 100 metres (out of town)
- Pedestrian protection island at least 1.5 metres wide
- Flow of traffic in two directions
- Recognisability of the pedestrian crossing through adequate lighting
- Pedestrian frequency
The first four points are fulfilled by the pedestrian crossing on the Sinserstrasse, but it is the fifth point that is critical. In order for a pedestrian crossing to be operated safely, it must have a minimum pedestrian frequency, according to a standard applicable throughout Switzerland. In the five busiest hours of the day, this must be least 100 pedestrians. On school routes at least 75 pedestrians.
The Safety Directorate explains that a video recording has shown that "a maximum of 25 people per hour cross the Sinsertrasse on working days, while there are up to 70 on weekends". In the case of the Matten junction, the pedestrian frequencies are therefore clearly below the required guideline value.
As the security directorate writes, pedestrians are also more attentive when crossing the road if the yellow stripes are missing. As they have no priority, they are "not be lulled into a false sense of security," according to a response to the many inquiries received.
The Safety Directorate is thereby applying a standard introduced in March 2019. This is based on American studies, which conclude that the risk of accidents is lower when more pedestrians cross a road.
The guidelines from the studies have been adapted to Switzerland, according to Thomas Villiger. But: "Hardly any zebra crossing in the region meets this requirement," explains the former cantonal councillor. As all the other four points are met, he sees no reason not to mark the pedestrian crossing again.
A new appraisal is now underway
In response to the feedback from the residents, the security directorate now writes that it wants to "examine the concrete traffic situation at the Matten junction again in detail".
In the interests of an objective assessment, the directorate has thereby now commissioned an external report to clarify the traffic safety of the "Matten" pedestrian crossing. It’s not yet possible to estimate when the results of this report will be available.
The problem with pedestrian crossings is also well known by the schools in Hünenberg. Rolf Schmid, Rector of the Hünenberg schools, explains that a survey on safety on the way to school is currently being carried out among parents, school children and teachers, working together with an external company in the municipality,
For Rahel Iten it is clear that the current situation can’t be allowed to continue.
"Our children are very unsure how to master this transition."
The intersection is not only a problem for pedestrians, but is also confusing for motorists. "Many motorists are now hesitant, because they’re not sure how they’re supposed to react. This makes it even more difficult for the children, of course."
It is unclear how the situation will develop, but the Security Directorate has promised to keep all those affected informed.