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  • Writer's pictureOmar Pathare


Updated: Jun 27, 2021

There has been a substantial increase in pedestrian traffic over the years with the growth of population in cities. Pedestrian traffic now cannot be categorised as heavy or light, due to the very nature of offices and establishments working round the clock. Having said so, there are times when the human traffic is dense during some parts of the day and very scarce at night-time or after midnight hours. As a convenience for pedestrians to move quickly from one end of the street across to another without having to suffer the fast-ongoing traffic and the danger of being hit by a moving car, pedestrian underpasses have been built to ensure that human movement on the street goes unimpeded in spite of vehicles plying on the roads above them.

The intended purpose of a pedestrian underpass is to allow pedestrians to continue their journey and create opportunity for mobility through environments containing congested and blocked areas like highways, crossroad junctions and large areas which are covered by surface buildings.

Unfortunately once these structures are built they are often left neglected or are poorly designed, which subsequently gives rise to perceptions of suspicion, abhorrence, fear and thereafter distaste to use that route in the minds of the pedestrians for whom it is intended.

Once the place is under-utilised, it becomes a shelter and a breeding ground for the homeless, beggars, thieves as well as stalkers and other violent criminals. This is because it allows them to remain unnoticed on the surface to other people and police personnel and gives them the place, time and opportunity to commit the crime which they intend to do at their leisure and thereafter move out and melt into the milling crowd above at the surface level.

Underpasses strive to connect pedestrians from one side of a pedestrian obstacle to the other. However, there are numerous factors that prevent these types of essential connections to fulfil their total potential, such as:

- Rundown appearance

- Lacking adequate lighting and surveillance

- Lacking in pedestrian way-finding

- Decreased on-street vibrancy

- Usefulness is not defined

These underpasses should be treated as a distinct structure in the city’s landscape and should therefore have:

- Its Identity as a Landmark

- Easy Navigation

- Usage of Signs

- Proper Sightlines

- Connectivity

The town planners should bear in mind certain factors which will lead to the proper and regular utilisation of the underpass:

- Natural Surveillance

- Natural Access Control

- Territorial Reinforcement

- Image

- Approach

- Maintenance: The underpass should be maintained in the following ways –

-infrastructure maintenance,

-standard cleaning, and

-responsive cleaning (graffiti) and repairing(vandalism).

- Hiding Places or Obstacles

- Adequate and proper Lighting

Rapid developments in urban infrastructure and with limited landscape available to grow, the development authorities will not only expand on the surface but sub-surface too. In reality, this will aid the progress of the city but also create a new environment which needs to be controlled and monitored lest it turns into a breeding ground for notorious elements who become a threat to the civic functioning of that society.


FORTIFY SECURITY CONSULTING can partner with town planners, municipal corporations and law-enforcement agencies to etch security plans that will provide expert inputs on the abovementioned aspects, to help make pedestrian underpasses secure and crime-free.

Please connect with us on for more information.

-Lt. Col. Omar S. Pathare (retd.), Founder, FORTIFY Security Consulting

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