By Twenty Twenty
It looks avant-garde and useful, but far from being effective and secure, the pedestrian bridges project for Merida’s beltway could become into an excluding infrastructure for elders and people with disabilities.
Yucatan government is planning to invest 78 million pesos to build nine new bridges and renew other eight to “improve life quality and social security for the yucatecans”.
But the plan will end to be more useful to car drivers (so they can keep using Merida’s beltway as a race track) than for pedestrians, because bridges are not considering what is better for these people.
This project is part of the Programa Conjunto de Mejora a la Movilidad y la Infraestructura Vial and includes bridges with elevators for wheelchairs, bicycles and tricycles.
At first sight it is very attractive and appears functional, but according to Habitat Design specialist, Regina Santos, these bridges can increase the vulnerability of people and generate social exclusion.
She said that these structures are not adapted for elder people, with motor or visual impairment, children or women.
For crossing these pedestrian bridges you have to walk about 200 steps and make an extra effort for going up and down.
Santos said: “the project is not based on an analysis of use and needs for pedestrians. It has an avant-garde design that tries to sell advantages: the flow of cars that allows people to cross in a safe way”.
As an example, she said that the use of elevators can be a risk because it hasn’t been explained how the maintenance is going to work, and what would happen if someone gets locked inside if the elevator stops working.
She considered that the city’s growth has provoked that the beltway is basically within the urban area, and this is why it must be adapted to be an internal road and not just a highway.
That’s why it must be adapted with a purpose: that the people who use that area can do so safely, whether for pedestrians and car drivers.
A way to do it can be making “sidewalks”, as this would force car drivers to slow down and give chance to pedestrian to cross through the belt way.