Do you heave a sigh of relief when you have reached the parking lot after a nerve-wracking ride on the roads of Dubai? Mind you! You are not just there yet.
Parking lots are full of risks. Not only because a driver might be too engaged in the maneuvering around a tight parking spot, but also because it is shared by more than only motorists; the more vulnerable pedestrian is everywhere.
Surprisingly, when it comes to traffic safety the parking lot is somewhat neglected.
In Sharjah, a fine was introduced in 2012 for reverse parking. Anyone moving into a parking spot with the back first could be fined Dh200.
A lot of people were surprised by the move, but it may not be such a bad idea.
Several accidents have occurred over the years where a mindless pedestrian was hit by an even more mindless motorist; some accidents were fatal.
“I do not always see when a vehicle is occupied. Especially during the day, the lights are not visible. It happened several times that I passed a parked vehicle that suddenly started reversing, and I had to jump in order to avoid to be hit,” said Kirsten Lopzig, a German resident in Dubai.
An ideal scenario would be where pedestrians are guided away from the hazard, and do not need to walk in the vicinity of a parked or parking car.
This could be realised outdoors, where the laying of pavement should do the job. But what about the indoor car park?
In most car parks, there is only one way to get to and from the car to the destination; by the same way the cars move through the parking lot. This causes enough stress and frustration.
“There is no way to walk through a car park safely,” said Roberto Alex, a South African resident in Dubai. There might be a pavement for certain stretches, eventually you have to cross the road. Depending on where your car is parked, you have to walk some parts on the same road where cars are passing.”
For families, this frustration is even more profound, as they have to brave the parking lot pushing a stroller along the contested roads. “I do not feel safe at all when I walk with my stroller through a car park. In fact, I find it terrifying,” said Marieke Boode, a Dutch Dubai resident.
In some car parks, there are dedicated lanes for pedestrians, which lead to the closest exit or elevator.
According to residents, this comes close to a safer car park. “I have seen this in some mall car parks. It does help me feel safer, if it actually leads to the doorstep of the exit. But it not always does. Sometimes it just guides pedestrians on a stretch of car park, but it stops at a certain point and then the pedestrian is on his own again,” said Marieke.
Another risk zone is the building car park, where safety measures rarely ever apply and residents are likely to bump into each other.
“The other day I was heading towards the exit with my wife and child, when a motorcyclist approached the same exit. My wife was carrying our child, but the biker took right of way and almost hit her. It was extremely dangerous,” narrates Bashar al Jundi, a Syrian resident in Tecom.
“In our building, we are forced to walk through the parking lot, as there is no other entrance or exit. On many occasions I had to hold my pace because a reckless motorist approached speeding from around the corner. I do not find this a safe area to walk,” said S. Kumar, an Indian resident in Skycourts.