ABU DHABI // Pedestrian crossings will replace six bridges that were dismantled to make way for roadworks in downtown Abu Dhabi.
Dismantling of the bridges in Al Zahiyah has led to hundreds of people risking their lives by jaywalking.
The Abu Dhabi General Services Company, Musanada, has removed five bridges as part of a development project for the area. Another will be removed this month.
“The development of the streets will enhance the safety of the road as well as safeguard the pedestrians,” a spokesman for Musanada said.
The number of lanes will be reduced from six to four each way to minimise crossing distances for pedestrians and the speed limit has been lowered to improve safety for them.
Permanent crossings will be available for the public when the work is completed, the spokesman said, although a date was not revealed.
“Pedestrian should only cross from designated zebra crossings,” he said. “In addition, temporary signs have been erected at site to deter pedestrians from crossings.
The latest plan comes more than a decade after work started on Sheikh Zayed Tunnel in Al Zahiyah, where roads were converted from two-way to one-way streets and pedestrian bridges were built.
Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, said building sites and other dangerous areas must be properly secured.
“This means temporary safe pedestrian crossings, pedestrian bridges or even underpasses must be established,” Mr Edelmann said.
“Often, the lack of proper and safe crossing options provokes unsafe crossings, which are dangerous for the pedestrians but also for the concerned motorists.”
More than 100 pedestrians are killed on the UAE’s roads every year. Police say pedestrians are responsible for 95 per cent of accidents where they are run over.
Jaywalking is illegal and offenders face fines of Dh200 if caught.
The latest statistics from the Abu Dhabi traffic police said 48 pedestrians died in 2015, compared with 54 the previous year.
The most high-profile case occurred in June 2009, when Shaikha Al Mansouri, 4, and her sisters Damayer, 6, and Mariam, 7, were killed trying to reach Carrefour near Sheikh Zayed Sports City when they were hit by a speeding driver along with their nanny.
Their Indonesian nanny Nurshaida Parjan, 24, died in hospital 10 months later.