Pedestrians continue to run across four lanes of traffic, through a gap in the central reservation fence and across another four lanes on the other side - ignoring a new overhead bridge.
Jaywalkers shun new bridges as dodging traffic is 'faster'
ABU DHABI // Pedestrians are risking their lives by running across one of the capital's fastest roads - ignoring the new bridge over their heads.
The walkway across Airport Road to Mushrif Mall is one of nine being built jointly by Abu Dhabi's police, municipality, Department of Transport (DoT) and Urban Planning Council.
Ajesh Baby Kunjupillai, 28, an Indian security guard outside the mall, says staff were among those who prefer to dart across the road through high-speed traffic.
"I told them it's dangerous," he said. "But they said it was faster to cross the road."
Annie Sultan Ali, 24, from Pakistan, ignored the bridge, saying: "I'm late for work and it's too far."
Javed Shah, 29, a Pakistani electrical engineer, said: "Everybody is always in a hurry.
"Abu Dhabi has so many safe passageways for pedestrians but many tend to ignore them and risk their lives."
Some people have been using the walkway, including Mohammed Fahim, 26, an Egyptian social worker at Al Manhal International School.
"It's good but we have to climb the stairs," he said. "I hope the authorities will also build an elevator."
Near the main bus station, a new bridge crosses Muroor Road. But there, too, pedestrians continue to run across four lanes of traffic, through a gap in the central reservation fence and across another four lanes on the other side. Some do use it - but only when they have to.
"I was carrying bags of groceries so I decided to use the bridge," said Conrad Montero, 40, a Filipino audio-visual technician at an Abu Dhabi hotel.
He added that the fence should be closed to stop pedestrians crossing there.
Another bridge is being built outside the Carrefour supermarket on Airport road, while two more will be constructed across Mussafah Road - one to the workers' accommodation and another near Dalma Mall.
Others will be built near Bahia and Al Shahama on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai motorway, on the Abu Dhabi to Al Ain road opposite Abu Dhabi University and at Baniyas. The total cost is Dh35.2 million.
Authorities hope to reduce the number of jaywalkers and so cut the number of road injuries and deaths.
"Building underpasses and pedestrian bridges isn't enough," said Khalid Mohamed Hashim, the executive director of land transport at the DoT. "Pedestrians should easily find them and as we learned from the walk audit, there needs to be some attractions, such as small shops inside the tunnels."
Last year, a DoT study found that 60 per cent of pedestrians crossed at places other than designated crossings because they were inconvenient.
Sabir, 38, a job-seeker from Pakistan, claimed many people were too lazy to walk to a junction and wait for a signal to change.
"It's too far so you see many jaywalkers here on Muroor Road," he said.
The DoT is now working on a "full pedestrian safety plan", which includes bridges and better street-level crossings.
"It may be easier for people to cross the road [elsewhere], but it's dangerous," said Mr Hashim.
The safety plan should be finished this month.
Pedestrian deaths in the capital dropped by 20 per cent last year, from 101 to 81.
This story has been corrected since original publication. Security guard Ajesh Baby Kunjupillai is from India, not Bangladesh.