x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Quiet residential street becomes 'raceway' in Dubai

Mall and restaurant customers are being funnelled through an area not designed for heavy traffic flows, causing congestion and angering residents who say pedestrians, especially children, are in danger.

Mall and restaurant customers are being funnelled through an area not designed for heavy traffic flows, causing congestion and angering residents who say pedestrians, especially children, are in danger.
Mall and restaurant customers are being funnelled through an area not designed for heavy traffic flows, causing congestion and angering residents who say pedestrians, especially children, are in danger.

DUBAI // Residents who have seen their once quiet family neighbourhood invaded by ceaseless traffic from a nearby mall and restaurant warn that cars constantly speeding through the narrow street are endangering the lives of pedestrians, especially children.

The problem centres around Street 73a, off the Jumeirah Beach Road, a one-way road with two lanes, which switches to single lanes in both directions when it meets Street 14c. The thoroughfare is sandwiched between the Mercato Mall and the popular Fudo restaurant.

People living in the area are worried someone could be injured or killed if action is not taken. The road has an exit for the mall's underground and outdoor car parks and faces on to the restaurant parking area, creating almost constant congestion.

"This is largely a family area, so there are a lot of young children about," said Amina Gilani, a British housewife who lives nearby. "The problem is that many drivers use the streets around here as a rat-run or a place to park their cars when they go to the restaurant."

Mrs Gilani said the problem was particularly bad on weekend evenings, when the restaurant was at its busiest and people were exiting the mall.

John Stevens, a mall regular from Canada who works as a consultant engineer, blamed the restaurant for attracting excess traffic to the area.

"I just don't understand why they decided to put a restaurant in a residential area with such a small road near a big mall," he said. "In the evenings we get car horns, and the evenings over the weekend are even worse, with many drivers using this area as a race track."

Dubai Police and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) were not available for comment.

Richard Ferrer, the manager at Fudo, said the restaurant was working with the mall to solve the problem. He denied the restaurant was at fault, blaming motorists for slowing local traffic from passing through.

"We have about 14 car parking spaces in front of the restaurant," Mr Ferrer said. "The main issue we have is that many of the guys slow down to look at the girls who come to the restaurant. That slows the traffic down and makes the road congested. Whenever we see drivers who are stopping in the middle of the road, our staff go out and tell them to move on.

"What many people don't realise is that this road is also the exit for the underground mall car park as well, and in the weekend evenings it gets pretty bad as people leave the cinema."

"We have investigated the cinema part," the mall's management office said in a statement. "Since there is no direct exit from the cinema to outside Mercato, we found the complaints against the cinema customers are irrelevant."

The mall advised concerned residents to contact police or the local authorities.

The situation needed to be sorted out regardless of who fixed it, according to Sanjeev Bakht, a frequent mall customer who suggested the street be widened.

"The authorities really need to do something about that road," he said. "Getting out of the mall is a real problem on weekend evenings and you can spend 20 minutes waiting to get out of the car park during the rush hour. I've stopped going to watch films during these times because it's not worth the hassle."

 

nhanif@thenational.ae