x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Footbridges will cross Dubai's deadliest roads

The Roads and Transport Authority plans to instal seven new pedestrian bridges over highways where pedestrians have died while trying to cross them.

A new footbridge will be built on Al Meena Road in Dubai in a bid to improve pedestrian safety.
A new footbridge will be built on Al Meena Road in Dubai in a bid to improve pedestrian safety.

DUBAI // The deadliest stretches of roads for pedestrians in the emirate will have footbridges stretching over them within the next two years.

And the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) hopes to erase some of Dubai's pedestrian black spots with new crossings by 2016.

Seven pedestrian bridges will be in place by the end of this year, the authority said.

The Pedestrian Safety and Mobility Action Plan for Dubai, a study by the RTA, recommended 30 pedestrian bridges, 62 pedestrian-controlled traffic light, or pelican, crossings and 148 zebra crossings over the next four years at various locations in Dubai.

Emirates Road, identified by Dubai Police as the deadliest for pedestrians over the past two years, will get two new footbridges. One of them will be near labour camps and the other will be close to Al Aweer vegetable market.

"This area [Emirates Road] is similar to many other areas highlighted in the study, which will be considered as a priority because it depends on many factors like number of accidents, pedestrian volumes and ease of crossing," a spokesman for the RTA said.

Four pedestrians were killed on Emirates Road last year. Another two were killed on Al Ittihad Road, and another two on Al Khaleej Road.

Another 33 streets across Dubai, including Sheikh Zayed Road, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai-Al Ain and Al Khail roads, registered one pedestrian death each.

Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zaffin, head of the Dubai Police traffic department, said Emirates Road was particularly deadly because it was close to labour camps and many workers cross the road on foot.

"This road witnesses a large number of labour movements," he said. Police say they are raising awareness among pedestrians and issuing fines for jaywalking. The offence is common among low-income workers in Dubai who cannot afford taxi rides on a monthly salary of Dh1,500.

When police catch labourers crossing illegally, they confiscate the offender's labour card until the Dh200 fine is paid.

"Crossing a motorway is a taboo and no one should attempt to do so," Maj Gen Al Zaffin said. "We are in constant talks with RTA to suggest barriers on highways to prevent people from crossing them."

Umm Suqeim Road near Mall of the Emirates and Al Meena Road near the Ports and Customs Office will each get a new footbridge.

Another bridge will be built on the Jebel Ali industrial road (E77), and across Sheikh Rashid Road near Deira city centre. A new bridge will also stretch over Al Wuheida Road at the BP Grand Station.

Dubai Police say curbing pedestrian accidents is the biggest challenge for the year, as they accounted for a third of all road accidents last year.

The total number of road deaths in Dubai dropped by 12 per cent last year from 152 in 2010 to 134 - but pedestrian deaths increased from 43 to 46.

More than 300 road accidents involving pedestrians were registered last year. In them, 46 people were killed and 42 were seriously injured, according to police. Of the 46 pedestrian deaths, 41 were caused by jaywalking, police said.

To safeguard schoolchildren, traffic calming measures, pedestrian crossings and bridges have also been installed or are in the process of being erected near all schools in Dubai, the RTA said.

Pedestrian bridges have already begun helping to reduce pedestrian deaths, said Maitha bin Udai, the chief executive of the Traffic and Roads Agency at the RTA.

"For example, on Damascus Road, there were four pedestrian fatalities in 2008 and 2009, and after construction of three pedestrian bridges there was no fatality in 2010. The bridges opened mid-2009. Also, there were 33 pedestrian fatalities on Sheikh Zayed Road in 2007 and 2008. After the opening of [Dubai Metro] pedestrian bridges, there were only two pedestrian fatalities in 2009 and 2010."

The Metro bridges opened in September 2009, she said.

Maj Gen Al Zaffin said pedestrians can play an important role in reducing accidents by being more careful.

"It takes a fraction of the second to stop one's leg, but one needs more time to stop a car. Pedestrians need to protect themselves in a better way," he said.