Dubai residents want to see speeding drivers tackled before using bicycles on roads

A pilot to encourage more people to walk and cycle in Bur Dubai will begin soon

Residents said safety standards must improve if a new drive to make Dubai's roads more "people-friendly" is to succeed.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced plans to encourage more people to travel by foot and use bicycles and scooters in the Karama, Mankhool and Al Qusais districts.

The first phase of the “soft mobility” masterplan is due to be completed in March, with new markings on residential roads indicating if they are pedestrian or cyclist friendly.

“The plan envisages the use of non-conventional transit means such as walking and cycling as well as the use of electric scooters,” said Mattar Al Tayer, RTA's director-general.

I would want to be sure people were driving safely before I took a bicycle on the road

“It addresses challenges by providing an infrastructure that supports the integration of mobility such as the construction of cycling tracks, pedestrian crossings and rest areas, shaded paths, landscaped areas, parking for rented cars and bike racks.”

Mr Al Tayer said the project would promote the use of non-motorised transport modes through a “people-friendly infrastructure”.

The National spoke to residents in Karama and Mankhool on Sunday afternoon who welcomed the project, but were sceptical about how successful it would prove to be.

“It’s a good idea but the problems will come from people who don’t follow the instructions,” said Ethiopian Meseret Teshoma, 54.

“We often have cyclists here rushing out in front of pedestrians or oncoming traffic and they very rarely wear high-visibility clothing either, it can be quite dangerous.”

Another resident who cautiously backed the project was Cedrick Ortilla, a 27-year-old Filipino bartender.

“A lot of times people who are driving cars here in Karama are going way too fast and it becomes dangerous,” he said.

“You can see them getting frustrated having to wait at traffic lights so anything that makes life easier for pedestrians and cyclists should be encouraged.”

Filipino teacher Jade Palad, 33, said speeding drivers in her neighbourhood would make her think twice about cycling.

‘I would want to be sure people were driving safely before I took a bicycle on the road,” she said.

“I don’t cycle but the way people drive around here wouldn’t give me a safe feeling if I did.

“People also need to be educated about how this works – a lot of people are going to find it really confusing.”

However not everyone had doubts about the plan to make the districts easier to get around for cyclists and pedestrians.

“I think it will go a long way to help improve the community,” said Mohammad Shafeeque, 41, an Indian admin manager who works in Karama.

“People are already talking positively about all the signs and markings being put down on the roads to make them more cyclist friendly.”