Pedestrian rights! what rights?

The newly established Jordanian Society for Pedestrian Rights (JSPR) is currently preparing two pilot projects that seek to raise awareness on pedestrian issues in the Kingdom, according to JSPR President Amer Bashir.

The 78-member society is planning to rehabilitate a 600-meter-long street in the Um Utheinah area of West Amman to set a prototype for pedestrian-friendly street standards that would be later applied at various locations throughout the Kingdom.

According to Bashir, the JSPR, in cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), will install speed bumps, traffic signs, pedestrian paths, pedestrian crossings, and other traffic safety mechanisms on the model street. Bashir said the society’s main goal is to arrive at a balance where pedestrians and vehicles can peacefully coexist on streets.

Source: [The Jordan Times]

I’m one of those that gave up on the idea of walking in Amman a long time ago. The city is simply not pedestrian-friendly. In addition to the poor urban planning, which puts the lives of pedestrians at risk, female pedestrians (a group to which I belong) rarely walk unaccompanied without being harassed and/or showered with sleazy comments. Will this JSPR make a difference? Maybe, but I think they need to start by changing people’s attitudes, which, in my opinion, is almost always a lose-lose situation.

7 thoughts on “Pedestrian rights! what rights?”

  1. Bingo, Natasha. No matter what kind of signs are put up, nothing will stop the harassment. So, it will be a nice place for shabaab to biquzderu (hows that for Arablish?). It’s a nice idea, though.

  2. Going from a pedestrian friendly city where I can expect a car to stop to allow me to cross and where I do the same, to driving and walking in Jordan is like wanting to get run over. I couldn’t beleive that cars actually have the right of way and pedestrians stop dead in their tracks for the car to pass. I can’t recall the number of times in Jordan when I came close to getting run over or almost getting rear-ended (and certainly called ibn &^&@*!#*) when I stopped to let someone cross the road….it is a shame but I don’t do either anymore. Not only do the drivers need to be educated, but pedestrians also, in the correct/safe was to cross a street. I have seen some cross right through the middle of a traffic circle and even in holes cut in fences errected to prevent the unsafe crossing of busy streets. Even the pedestrian bridges are ignored.
    Maybe they could start by making the sidewalks safe or constructing sidewalks that are even so that people can use them without falling flat on their faces. I usually find that is safer to walk in the streets as opposed to sidewalks where every couple of steps you find yourself to navigate up or down. But walking in Amman, no way would I even consider.
    And more speed bumps. That is certainly not the answer. Proper enforcement of the laws I feel is the key…something which is rarely done. The number of dead counter really won’t make much of an impact…and may cause driver’s eyes to stray to the sign rather than focusing on the road ahead.

  3. Natasha,
    Why the negativity and cynicism? i think that if we all have this attitude towards any projects that try to make Jordan a better place, then we will never move forward…. you are right this is the situation at the moment, but at least someone is trying to do something about it… if we dont encourage improvement in our country, who would?

  4. My guess is that her trip to do some paperwork — with Baba even — around Abdali the other day sparked such feelings, Mariam, as she was harassed even by the shurta!! You are right Mariam, positive action is good, but perhaps this is a bit of cart before the horse. I think constructing some decent sidewalks and as Luai suggests, getting pedestrians on board about where to actually cross is a good starting point. The attitude of drivers, however, really is amazing. And it’s one reason it’s not such a bad idea to see the police huts. Their presence really is a deterrent for the most minor of infractions. That wouldn’t matter in a place where there were few infractions but Amman these days is rife with traffic scofflaws. It’s a dangerous place to drive, much less walk. Add into that harassment and it’s a hostile environment, unfortunately.

  5. Jeff, i swear to God I absolutely love how you support Natasha… but now back to the topic at hand…you know what Jeff… we as a society need reform in every detail of our life…..but since this is impossible, then every little and any little helps… you guys are absolutely right… but again… no one took the intiative to do other thingd… they took initiative to do the pedestrian thing… why not support it? maybe other people will be inspired and one thing will lead to the other and we will end up being a sofisticated society one day…. The point is we… who can be able to give should give even if giving is as little as supporting.

  6. Agreed, absolutely Mariam. I think the frustration thing is the real issue at hand in the post though. And it rings true for so many that are tired of this. The streets of Amman are ones of fear for those on foot or bicycle … even those with four wheels! You want to keep hoping that someone will get it right at some point, that out there on the first try they’ll do something and it’ll be just perfect. But here it comes again, cart before the horse.
    Sometimes these initiatives cause real problems as well. You may recall all of the ire at the Street of Culture initiative. I taught English to some GAM guys that were behind that project. I always understood their position and their intent and did my best to support them 🙂 But it appears to have been a case of not seeing the forest for the trees with that project. It has led to some real problems — particularly for those that live in and around the street in Shmeisani.
    I’m loathe to be called a ‘hater.’ It’s far too easy to say: “this sucks,” or “I don’t like this,” than it is to actually provide a solution or come up with some really, truly constructive criticism. And in truth, I love change. I think things can always stand improvement, so I’m glad to see movement. You just hate it when you think it’s moving backwards because in the end you have to work still harder to see things set right.
    All that said, let’s hope that they create something worthwhile and don’t take two steps back for every one step forward. While the streets of Doha, Qatar were about the same in terms of their “harassment quotient” the Corniche was fantastic, with only the most obtuse stare and little to no “eche ya hellwi” commentary. Surely, on this point, Amman can compete with Doha! Oh yeah, always support your spouse 🙂

  7. The harassment is that bad? Interesting. You know, even the obligatory hijab hasn’t done anything to fix that problem in Iran. If anything, it has actually increased in the recent years. Now if you wear your chador you might avoid stares and nasty comments, wear a head scarf and folks undress you with their eyes. Back before the revolution, the modesty-metre had been the length of your mini-skirt. Goes to show you how pointless it is to mandate a specific form of clothing.

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