20 pedestrian crossings across Dubai this year

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By Shafaat Ahmed  www.khaleejtimes.com

DUBAI — Twenty new pedestrian crossings will come up in various locations across Dubai, including two near the Oud Al Muteena area on Emirates Road, by the end of this year as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) looks to reduce increasing pedestrian fatalities.

As many as 15 of these crossings are part of the metro Green Line project and would open with the launch of Dubai Metro’s much-anticipated second line, while the remaining five are bridges being built on roads considered to be pedestrian black spots like Emirates Road, Abu Baker Siddique Road, Rebat Street and Baniyas Street. The two pedestrian bridges being built on Emirates Road would be first such dedicated crossings on the busy national highway.

The areas where the two bridges are being built are concentrated by thousands of labour clusters and are attracting highest priority due to a rising number of pedestrian fatalities there over the last three years.

As many as 29 pedestrians have lost their lives in the last three years around the two designated locations, while trying to run across the superfast highway, due to lack of provisions for the
pedestrians.

The crossings with facilities like air condition and elevators would be ready before the end of this year.

Apart from developing the infrastructure, the authority is also running campaigns at various places where there is a lot of footfall as well as vehicular traffic, especially in areas where there are massive labour accommodation clusters.

“We are identifying pedestrian black spots in a number of areas. A specialist team is carrying out surveys to find out these spots to build bridges. Our approach is multi-pronged and that is the reason why we want to provide the infrastructure and as that is getting ready we are reaching out to people to make them use the infrastructure,” said Maitha bin Adai, CEO of RTA’s Roads and Transport Agency.

The RTA recently completed a month-long pedestrian safety campaign targeting labourers and reached out to them through educative programmes, contests, games etc.

“We distributed around 25,000 leaflets published in four different languages — Arabic, English, Hindi and Urdu — among pedestrians and cyclists to increase safety awareness, and we hope to increase awareness and reduce fatalities by adopting different measures,” she added.

The RTA has identified building of crossings to be the most effective measure in reducing the fatalities.

The authority, in consultation with a group of experts, has studied the pedestrian safety issues through a comprehensive project,

“Pedestrian Safety and Mobility Action Plan for Dubai”, and plans to construct 30 pedestrian bridges, 62 pelican crossings, 148 zebra crossings in the next five years.

The statistics show that the plan is a step in the right direction, as the recently built pedestrian bridges having already helped reduce fatalities on those roads. For instance, four pedestrian were killed on Damascus Road in 2008 and 2009 and after the construction of three pedestrian bridges on the road, no fatalities were reported in 2010. The bridges opened in late 2009.

Similarly, there were 33 pedestrian fatalities on Shaikh Zayed Road in 2007 and 2008. After the opening of metro pedestrian bridges in September 2009 and until the end of 2010, only two pedestrians died in accidents on the road. shafaat@khaleejtimes.com