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Amira Agarib / 28 December 2012
Concerned Dubai residents are asking for more pedestrian bridges and safe crossings to minimise the number of people dying while attempting to cross multiple-lane roads, with even the police accepting more safe crossings are needed.
Dubai resident Reri Khalf said the absence of pedestrian bridges on busy roads made things difficult for those who needed to visit businesses on the other side of the road.
“The absence of crossings forces people to take their cars and battle the traffic just to go to the other side. This also increases the traffic rush.”
Another resident Nahid Hassan said that on many roads, people had to walk for hours before reaching a crossing.
“People who don’t have their own vehicles are the worst hit. Taxis don’t entertain people who only want to travel to the other side of the road. So the authorities should increase network of crossings and subways which will help the commuters a lot.”
Ali Riza said that old people and children could not walk for long periods, so were forced to cross the road. The police were issuing fines on people for crossing at undesignated areas, but before issuing fines the authorities must do their part and build more pedestrian crossings, he said.
Legal consultant Murtada Majed said that the lack of pedestrian crossings on important roads in Dubai, particularly on highways such as Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai Bypass Road and Emirates Road, is still a worrying factor for traffic authorities. He said Shaikh Zayed Road should be the first to have more crossings or subways. Colonel Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, Deputy Director of the General Department of Traffic, said that the strategies implemented by the department had led to drop in deaths by 3.2 per cent this year compared to last year, though the number of run-over accidents has dropped marginally in 2012 compared to 2011.
As many as 118 people died in road accidents between January and November this year, compared to 135 people in the corresponding period in 2011 .
He said that pedestrian accidents, especially on five dangerous roads, were a worrying factor.
The four most dangerous roads in Dubai have witnessed a drop in accidents, he said, adding that the Dubai Bypass Road had recorded nine deaths compared to 14 deaths last year; Emirates Road registered nine deaths compared to 10 deaths in 2011; Shaikh Zayed Road had six deaths compared to last year’s five; and Al Khawaneej Road had seen three deaths compared to just one last year.
Colonel Saif said the police had intensified traffic patrols along all four roads to deter pedestrians from crossing at unauthorised points. The lack of safe crossings and speeding by motorists had led to deaths on various roads, he said.
Colonel Saif said he wanted to see pedestrian crossings be made available at a distance of one kilometre along the entire stretch of roads that had seen the highest number of pedestrian deaths, which were mainly from labourers working on road projects. The absence of crossings on roads forced many workers to cross the roads from non-designated areas, but with some roads as wide as six-lanes, this was a difficult feat, he said.
He said the traffic police were taking a number of initiatives, including identifying roads where there is a lot of pedestrian movement and intensifying police patrols, to prevent people from crossing the roads dangerously.
During one campaign, the police caught 26,090 pedestrians crossing various roads from non-designated spots. There had been 40,166 pedestrians fined for crossing roads from non-designated areas during a continuous campaign which led to a drop in pedestrians hit, with the police recording 10 deaths until November, compared to 13 cases in the same time frame last year. The police were focusing on awareness campaigns and training workshops targeting youths and truck drivers, he said.
“We are organising a series of traffic campaigns aimed at reducing traffic jams, reckless driving and speeding. Most accidents were taking place near labour accommodations,” he said.
“We noted most of those who killed are workers during weekends, so the Dubai Traffic Department has held meetings with contracting companies and proposed a move under which they should arrange transportation for their workers during weekends if the latter want to go to shopping centres or parks.” Colonel Saif said that the police had installed cameras near pedestrian crossings at traffic signals in 2009, aimed at catching motorists who endangered lives of other road users by jumping red signal.
Roads so far targeted included in Al Wasl and Jumeirah while cameras would be installed in other areas in the future.
“Photographs taken by the cameras showed awful scenes of pedestrians escaping death at the last moment, from being crushed at the crossings by vehicles of reckless motorists who jumped the red signal.” Motorists who are caught doing so will be slapped with a fine of up to Dh2,000 and 12 traffic points recorded against their names, while their vehicles would be impounded for two weeks, he said.
“It is sad to say that most motorists abide by traffic laws only if they see cameras, so the traffic department has plans to install these cameras at all pedestrian crossings.”
He said that the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) had set up speed bumps at all pedestrian crossings as many motorists accelerated as soon as the signal turned green, endangering the lives of pedestrians. — firstname.lastname@example.org
RTA plans to improve pedestrian safety
Efforts are underway to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents in Dubai, with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) working on plans to reduce fatalities.
The RTA has prepared a comprehensive pedestrian action plan to deal with pedestrian safety. The organisation has said it aims to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in pedestrian accidents and a 20 per cent increase in walking trips, by creating a pedestrian-friendly environment.
Speaking with Khaleej Times, a spokesperson from the RTA said: “The implementation of pedestrian action plan is planned to be over a period of five years. The areas are prioritised depending on many factors like number of accidents, pedestrian volumes, ease of crossing etc; and the RTA will prioritise these locations.”
The RTA also has plans to build several footbridges around the city, with the total number of footbridges set to reach 105 by 2016.
Location of footbridges around Dubai:
Call for more pedestrian crossings in Sharjah
Scared Sharjah residents, worried about the fatal threat from speeding cars, are demanding the construction of pedestrian walkways in many vital commercial areas across the emirate.
Residents told Khaleej Times they fear crossing the streets where cars move at very high speeds, ignoring pedestrians crossing the road. They said the lack of pedestrian crossings would cause even more fatal accidents.
Resident Reem Abu Al Iezz said there were frequent fatal pedestrian accidents taking place along Al Buhairah Corniche Road. “Two of my friends died in this street while crossing the road due to lack of crossings.” Muezz Khan, resident of Al Majaz, said that despite the beautiful project in Al Buhairah Corniche Road where he lived, he felt living there was too dangerous as the area lacks walkways to cross the road to reach the park.
Most people said they wanted pedestrian bridges or tunnels particularly in Jamal Abdunasser Street, Al Khan and Al Qasimia, particularly in restaurant areas, and that they also require the same near mosques and public parks, especially Al Majaz Water Front park.
Some residents criticised the damaged wooden pedestrian bridge near Sahara Centre, demanding urgent maintenance for it to ensure the safety of the mall’s customers.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Sharjah Municipality Director-General Sultan Abdullah Al Mualla said creating more pedestrian crossings was an important move to reduce accidents.
The municipality has already made a proposal for making crossings in a number of areas that required walkways or bridges. These included Al Majaz Waterfront and some residential areas, he said.
The initiative of the pedestrian walkway project is being taken in cooperation with Sharjah Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Sharjah Police, based on architectural designs, technical specifications and safety standards to ensure a safe passage for pedestrians. These departments study the areas in the emirate based on the population density and number of pedestrian accidents.
Department of Public Works traffic engineering director Muhsen Belwan said that following increase in pedestrian accidents and public complaints, the DWP had recently initiated five zebra crossings and built two underpasses on different roads where there had been a number of accidents involving pedestrians.
According to the Traffic Department, the number of pedestrian accidents this year had been reduced by approximately 40 per cent as compared to last year, largely due to the extra walkways, underpasses and foot bridges recently built in may areas of the city. In 2012, approximately 15 people were killed in accidents resulting from speeding vehicles and inattentive road-crossing by pedestrians, while last year there were 24 people killed in similar circumstances.
Apart from causing fatalities, such accidents also caused permanent disability in 75 people, during the past two years.
A high-ranking official at the Sharjah Police echoed the sentiment saying that the main factor in accidents involving pedestrians was a lack of suitable points to cross safely in vital areas of the emirate. “The police are making a great effort in coordination with the DPW and the municipality to address this issue. I wish that by 2013 and 2014 pedestrian bridges and crossings would be constructed in all the required areas,” he said.
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