Pedestrians risk their lives and distract motorists by crossing a busy road in Dubai. Many people do this because they do not have any option. The RTA is addressing such issues. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Over the next five years, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will construct at least 24 new pedestrian bridges around the city, officials told Gulf News.

The project is part of a series of initiatives aimed at making Dubai a more pedestrian-friendly city, said Maitha Bin Udai, CEO of Traffic and Roads Agency at the RTA.

According to the RTA's five-year plan, 24 pedestrian bridges, 36 raised crossings and 86 pelican/puffin crossings will be constructed in various locations in the city.

Around 121 new zebra crossings will also be marked, in addition to upgrading 74 existing signal junctions and roundabouts, Maitha said.

The RTA recently completed a study related to safety of pedestrians, titled Pedestrian Safety and Mobility Action Plan for Dubai, in association with a US-based consultancy. The new initiatives were drawn up based on the recommendations of the study, she said. Work on these initiatives will be undertaken based on priority, she added.

Residents welcomed the decision and urged the authorities to complete work on designated crossing areas at the earliest in places where accidents happen regularly.

"Young children jumping over the central barriers on the road to get to their school bus stop on the opposite side is a common sight in the area where I live," Jolly Joy Thomas, a resident of Al Nahda area, said, referring to the intersection between Baghdad and Amman streets.

"The RTA should focus on highly populated areas such as this because, due to the lack of pedestrian crossings, many parents drive their children to their bus stops creating huge traffic blocks during the peak hours," he added.

According to Fareed Sayed, another resident, people who crossing the road at non-designated places are risking their lives. "But sometimes you have no choice as safe crossings may be too far away."

Lack of options

The area opposite Pizza Hut in Hor Al Anz badly needs a pedestrian crossing since a large number of jaywalkers is a common sight here, he said.

Sayed added that although fines are issued often, they fail to deter people due to the lack of options.

It is a great decision to build more pedestrian walkways, said Yaqoob Arafat, adding that regular upkeep is also a must.

In some pedestrian bridges the escalators and lifts are faulty and this makes it harder, particularly during summer, he added.