|Footbridge in Chùa Bộc Street. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuấn
HÀ NỘI — Many pedestrian bridges and underground passages in Hà Nội are largely unused due to their inconvenience and safety concerns, according to baotintuc.vn.
Despite large investment in the constructions considered part of a modern transport system, many bridges and tunnels have been neglected for years.
According to experts, pedestrians will use bridges and tunnels instead of jaywalking if they are in convenient locations, safe and clean.
Among the city's tunnels and bridges, only those in Thanh Xuân District’s Ngã Tư Sở Intersection and Nam Từ Liêm District’s Cầu Diễn, which are densely populated with a high density of vehicles, have a large number of pedestrians using them.
These tunnels give people a sense of security with fully equipped ventilation and lighting, signposts and security and cleaning staff.
In the tunnel in the Ngã Tư Sở Intersection, there is a bicycle path. The tunnel is cleaned daily so people in the neighbourhood also often come down for exercise.
Nguyễn Thị Dung, a security worker in Cầu Diễn tunnel, said that “the tunnel was often crowded. It is very safe in here.”
“There are no beggars or drug addicts in the tunnel,” she said.
Security and location a concern
But not all tunnels in the city are used by pedestrians.
Phạm Hùng street is a high-density traffic route so the number of pedestrians crossing is huge but the underground tunnel in front of Mỹ Đình bus station is almost deserted.
Garbage is scattered in front of the tunnel and tea shops are located close to the tunnel gate.
“I do not like to go through the tunnel because it is quite deserted,” said Nguyễn Trà My.
“The tunnel is not clean enough and sometimes, there are drug addicts inside the tunnel,” My said.
“Moreover, there are many young men gathered in the tea shops at the entrance of the tunnel so I feel uncomfortable passing by these people,” she said.
“I prefer to cross the street rather than go through the tunnel. And I have lived in Hà Nội for a long time, jaywalking is normal for me,” she said.
Thiều Đình Dần, from Thanh Hoá Province, who runs a tea shop in front of the tunnel, said: “Old people and children are afraid of passing through the tunnel because there were drug addicts and wanderers who ask them for money.”
“The tunnel is long and dark. It floods under heavy rain,” Dần said.
With jaywalking common, it seems citizens are more afraid of miscreants in the tunnels than crossing busy streets.
The tunnel in Phạm Đồng Street also has few people using although it is equipped with a lighting system and is clean.
“People preferred jaywalking. It's faster than going down to the tunnel,” said Vũ Thị Thuý, a resident in the area.
Crossing over the crowded street caused many tragic accidents.
“A month ago, I saw a young person have an accident when crossing the road in rush hour,” Thuý said.
Many tunnels have become degraded because there are no users and cleaning and maintenance is rarely carried out.
Though they don't have the same security issues as underground passes, many footbridges in Hà Nội are also unused due to being in inconvenient positions.
Some are in good locations but have poor designs with steep and slippery stairs which are inconvenient for the elderly and disabled.
For example, the bridge between Giảng Võ and Ngọc Khánh streets is modern but lacks synchronisation with surrounding infrastructure so few people use it.
The bridge is now degraded and rusty.
The bridge near the University of Social Sciences and Humanities on Nguyễn Trãi Street of Thanh Xuân District is in the same situation.
Every day, hundreds of students cross the busy street because the bridge is far from the bus stops and the university’s gate.
Lack of awareness
Lack of awareness of the Law on Road Traffic also leads to pedestrian tunnels and bridges being unused.
In rush hour, ew people using bridges in busy streets such as Nguyễn Chí Thanh, Hoàng Quốc Việt and many pedestrians risk their lives by crossing busy streets.
“It is a bit dangerous but walking through the road is faster and more convenient,” said Nguyễn Trung Hiếu, a student in Nguyễn Chí Thanh Street.
“Walking on the bridge takes time,” he said.
According to Hà Nội Transport Depatment, the city has 46 footbridges and 31 tunnels for pedestrians.
The municipal People’s Council recently approved projects of building six footbridges with total capital of VNĐ34.6 billion (US$1.5 million).
To get more people using the transport infrastructure works, the department has used several measures including information dissemination about road traffic laws, especially primary and secondary students via curriculum in schools.
The department has enhanced technical measures to force pedestrians to use underground passes and footbridges such as fencing and planting trees in median strips to prevent people crossing the roads.
Tougher fines for pedestrians who violate the Law on Road Traffic have also been mooted. — VNS