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Dhaka pedestrians keep avoiding foot over-bridges

  • Published at 07:04 pm September 25th, 2018
This file photo shows a large number of pedestrians crossing the busy Airport Road in Dhaka ignoring the heavy traffic, while violating laws and risking their lives, instead of using the foot overbridge that is just several feet away Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

According to data of the two Dhaka city corporations, currently there are 43 foot over-bridges in the Dhaka North City Corporation, and 31 in the Dhaka South City Corporation

Despite the presence of numerous foot over-bridges on the busy roads of Dhaka, most of the pedestrians prefer to cross the street, risking probable accidents and deaths.

According to data of the two Dhaka city corporations, currently there are 43 foot over-bridges in the Dhaka North City Corporation, and 31 in the Dhaka South City Corporation.

In Dhaka, people make 60% of trips by foot and only 4% of trips by car, said a 2015 study by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Islamic University of Technology.

The study titled “Pedestrian’s Behaviour on Road Crossing Facilities” said that 76% of all trips are less than 5 km, and 50% are less than 2 km, which is why people find walking to be convenient.

In a 2018 report titled “A study on the efficiency of foot overpasses and underpasses in Dhaka City” presented in the International Conference on Research and Innovation in Civil Engineering (ICRICE 2018), researchers found that in Dhaka, 86% of the road deaths are that of pedestrians. 

The study further found that almost half of pedestrian‐related accidents occur while people are waiting for a bus, crossing roads or walking on the roads without using footpaths. 

Shamima, a pedestrian who was caught while crossing road in the Shymoli intersection, said she was in a hurry and did not have time to climb two flights of stairs to cross the road.

Another female pedestrian complained that the over-bridges remain crowded with hawkers and people loitering around, smoking, and sometimes even harassing women.

“The over-bridges are too dirty to be used,” she added, urging the authorities concerned to maintain them well.

The over-bridge in Shahbagh intersection is always occupied by several homeless people, who can be seen openly taking drugs even in the daytime.

“I think police needs to take action against these people,” said Belal Ahmed, a pedestrian, who crossed the road by using the over-bridge.

He admitted that he rarely uses the over-bridge in the area as he feels “unsafe” around them. 

Road safety experts claim that people cannot just be expected to follow the rules unless they are enforced by the authority.

“The authorities need to ensure proper maintenance of the foot-over bridges,” said Assistant Professor Kazi Md Shifun Newaz at Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).

People in Bangladesh are not educated and ethical enough to follow laws on their own, he said, adding that the relevant authorities need to resort to penalizing people for jaywalking to ensure that they use the over-bridges.

“Installing fences on the side-walks underneath and around the over-bridges will also force people to use them,” he added.   

A questionnaire survey, conducted with 500 people as part of the study on the efficiency of foot overpasses and underpasses, found that 87.8% of the respondents consider using the over-bridges time consuming while 68.3% consider the over-bridges lack security.

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