Closed footbridge puts pedestrians in danger
Pedestrian or footbridges in Jeddah are the mainstay of pedestrians helping them to safely cross over the main thoroughfares and highways where traffic moves constantly and often at very high speeds.
Many roads also have signs prohibiting pedestrians from crossing the roads and risking their lives. However, they continue to do so owing to the insufficient number of footbridges across the main heart lines of the city.
Therefore, the closing down of a commonly frequented footbridge on Madinah Road has caused a lot of trepidation among pedestrians who now have no other recourse but to cross the road on foot.
The wooden footbridge is located in an area lined with shops and restaurants on either side of the road. It was popular with low income workers including street cleaners who couldn’t afford a taxi to cross the road to do their shopping at the Sarawat supermarket and other utility stores.
Zakriya Islam, a street cleaner, told Arab News that he used the pedestrian bridge on Madinah road everyday but after the bridge was closed he is finding it difficult to cross over. “Sometimes its takes 5 to 10 minutes of waiting before it is safe to cross the road on foot. There were many other poor workers who used this bridge,” he said adding that “I know there is a signboard prohibiting pedestrians to cross from the middle of the road but we don’t have a choice considering there is no other footbridge nearby.”
The entrances of the wooden bridge have been blocked from both sides and a signboard has been put up indicating that it is dangerous to use the bridge. Recently, the Jeddah municipality announced that there are plans to build ten footbridges in the city at a cost of $15.2 million following directives from the Jeddah Traffic Department for pedestrian safety.
A motorist, Dr. Ajmal Husain, remarked, “The government is planning to build new bridges but isn’t it more logical to repair the existing ones which would save time and money.” He added that he was witness to a large number of people putting their lives in danger everyday by crossing the roads owing to the lack of a footbridge.
Mohammed Aslam, a Jeddah resident, said that he has to take such risks everyday. “My shop is on Tahlia Street where the underpass is right in front of my shop. There is no footbridge there so I have to risk my life everyday running across the road to get to the other side where my house is,” he said. He added that the nearest safe place to cross the road was almost 2 kilometers away.
Mohammed Aleem Khan, another pedestrian, suggested that the municipality should follow the example of many European and Asian countries which have built underground tunnels instead of overhead footbridges enabling pedestrians to cross the streets in safety and comfort.
“Perhaps the engineers can integrate the pedestrian crossing facility with the design of the bridges and underpasses,” he added.