Cláudia Baltazar remembers the day when she saw an elderly neighbor fatally run over while crossing the zebra crossing. It was in 2015. In fact, the episode did not leave the memory of those who traveled on the section of Rua de Campolide between Av. Miguel Torga and Quinta José Pinto live. “It got faster and faster here,” he complains.
The work that turned the road into a wide artery with four traffic lanes and a central separator appears to have exacerbated the problem. There are traffic lights next to the zebra crossings but they still don’t work properly. And even if they work well, it takes a thousand worries. One day in January, says Cláudia, she was walking her two young children and had to pull them back when they took their first steps on the treadmill. “It was green for pedestrians and a car wouldn’t stop.”
Since the street opened in its current configuration more than two months ago, everyone who lives here has been asking the Lisbon City Council to start the traffic light quickly, as the feeling of insecurity for pedestrians has increased. Due to the pandemic and limitation, there are fewer cars driving, resulting in higher speeds.
“They pass very quickly,” complains João Vilaverde, owner of the famous Tasquinha do Lagarto. “Now the tar is new, it is smooth and makes it much easier to accelerate. Nothing has happened yet, ”he comments. “I leave the house, walk 30 meters to the side and have a pedestrian crossing, only the traffic lights don’t work,” says Hermes Palma. “Fortunately, more than half of the drivers stop to let me pass. That must be because I already have white hair, ”he laughs.
The traffic lights have been switched off for several weeks because the necessary power line has not yet been installed due to communication problems between the camera and IT. The community pushed for two of the three signs to be operational, but this is a temporary solution that does not provide security guarantees for passers-by.
Residents and traders recognize that the road has improved with the work. The wide sidewalk on one side was permanently occupied by cars blocking pedestrian traffic – and that ended. A buried ecopoint has been installed that will hopefully minimize urban hygiene issues. The trees and shrubs planted in the central divider give the area a different air.
“The work was undoubtedly desired and brings improvements,” summarizes André Brito. “When it comes to road safety, there are things that still need to be protected,” says this resident, who is the first to sign a petition with 160 signatures to ask the chamber for urgent measures.
Last week André attended the community’s public meeting and heard from Fernando Medina assurances that he would be personally involved in the matter. “You will have all my personal commitment in solving this problem,” said the mayor. “Immediately after the 2015 takeover, the decision was made to carry out the work on Av. Miguel Torga. This was the stage for a sad and terrible record hit,” he recalled.
Miguel Torga and Rua de Campolide have been identified by the city council for years as “black spots” by pedestrians who are run over in the city. Since they allow the connection between the north / south axis and Amoreiras, the two arteries are in great demand among motorists, and the traffic is not only a lot, but it is also often carried out at speeds that are not specified for a residential area and at which it is there are some proximity trades.
This was a concern residents wanted to express in September 2019 when the Urban Rehabilitation Society (SRU) held a meeting in Campolide. The municipal company, which was not responsible for the project options but only for the award and management of the contract, then announced that there are three pedestrian crossings with traffic lights – and the level of the street next to Jardim da Amnesty International – that do not exist .
There is a kindergarten in Santa Casa near this location, which is closed for the time being. In the front there is a zebra crossing with a traffic light that is activated by a radar camera installed a few meters behind it. “Sometimes I’m here at the door and see the cars coming at great speed and the yellow pass. When the light turns red, the car is over, ”says João Vilaverde. “There is already an excessive increase in speed above the traffic lights to pass the orange,” warns André Brito.
Here, even if all traffic lights are working properly, there is a fear that this will not be enough. “Traffic lights alone don’t work. The solutions that exist are clearly not useful, ”says Cláudia Baltazar. “This is not Cabos d’Ávila, but a residential area. In a European capital, with this position, it is unthinkable that there are speeds of over 50 km / h in a residential area, ”says André Brito.
“We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that this section is kept safe, especially when the road has taken on a greater role in terms of mobility and higher risk,” Medina said last week. “If it is necessary to have the police there, we will.”