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27 February 2024

Dubai to get 7 new footbridges this year

Construction of pedestrian bridges is one of the tactics adopted by RTA to reduce number of pedestrian accidents in traffic and improve pedestrian mobility. (File)

By Majorie van Leijen

Seven new pedestrian bridges will be constructed in Dubai this year, a senior official of the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) told Emirates 24/7.

Currently, the emirate counts 100 pedestrian bridges. This number will be topped up with 7 new bridges in 2015, revealed Maitha bin Adai, CEO of the Traffic and Road Agency (TRA) at the RTA.

The bridges will be located in Baghdad Street near HH Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum Pakistani School, Baghdad Street near Ponds Park, Al Rasheed Road near Hadeer Supermarket, Beniyas Road near Wharfage, Al Maktoum Street near Auto Mall, Al Meena Road near Capitol Hotel and Amman Street near Nahda2, said bin Adai.

Recently, 4 new bridges were opened as part of the Tram project, enabling pedestrians to safely cross the road in areas served by Dubai Tram.

The construction of pedestrian bridges in the emirate is one of the tactics adopted by the RTA to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents in traffic and improve pedestrian mobility.

In 2014, the rate of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population was reduced to 1, bin Adai said.

This is an impressive number considering that 7 years ago there were 9.5 fatalities per 100,000 population. The rate reduced to 2.3 fatalities per 100,000 in 2010 and 1.2 fatalities per 100,000 in 2013.

However, 43 pedestrian fatalities occurred last year, and a continuous effort is needed to improve pedestrian safety.

Pedestrians are a minority in traffic, especially in an emirate such as Dubai where temperatures can be soaring during the summer months. Limited pedestrian facilities and long distances within the city only add to the idea that Dubai is not meant for walking.

But this is starting to change. Facilities are increasing, dedicated walking tracks have sprung up and more and more areas are starting to be framed as pedestrian-friendly communities.

There is something called ‘pedestrian demand locations’, explained Maitha. In these areas, the RTA focuses on the construction of pedestrian facilities such as pedestrian bridges, pelican crossings, zebra crossings, as effective methods to reduce pedestrian accidents.

These facilities seem to have an effect on the safety of the pedestrian. However, jaywalking still forms a considerable challenge, as many pedestrians rather cross the road with a risk of getting hit, than walking the distance to the nearest pedestrian facility, if available.

In December last year, a 30-year-old Filipina was killed after she tried to cross First Al Khail Street, on the way from Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) to Mazaya Towers, an office area visited by many people on foot every day.

“We know the law about jaywalking [but] there is simply no other way to get to work,” said a person working in the same tower.

“As part of the ‘black spot improvement program’ roads will be studied and in line with the results facilities for pedestrians will be added,” said Maitha.

Increased facilities do form a solution to the problem of jaywalking, however, the RTA also aims to prevent jaywalkers by installing barriers between the roads. “This year the RTA will be coordinating with Dubai Municipality to install bushes/shrubs in the median in order to stop illegal jaywalking,” she added.

In addition, traffic calming measures in residential/industrial areas and pedestrian facilities near public transport stations will be implemented to improve pedestrian safety, and awareness campaigns about the importance of a pedestrian facility are held.

The RTA has published traffic safety awareness leaflets for the public highlighting the importance of pedestrian crossing and the role of pedestrians and motorists at such crossings, pointing out the fine for violators. 

In addition, the authority has conducted several workshops at many locations targeting different groups and different nationalities about pedestrian safety, she concluded.