Newly renovated underpass in Dushanbe helps vulnerable road users to avoid dangerous road crossing
When an underpass is constructed properly and maintained, it can have huge benefits. It segregates pedestrians and other vulnerable road users from fast-moving traffic enabling them to cross large, busy roads with complete safety.
However, when constructed poorly and not maintained, they become obsolete. In many instances, stepped access means they are inaccessible for people with disabilities, or parents with pushchairs. A poor state of cleanliness, personal security and safety fears also turn people away, especially women. Instead people are forced to take what they perceive as the ‘safer’ option of dodging traffic on the busy highway.
In Dushanbe, the underpass by the zoo and state university is the only way pedestrians are able to get to these destinations without crossing the busy eight-lane highway above. However, till now, the underpass has been rarely used, and was closed off at night for security reasons. Sadly, over the last 5 years the traffic police of Dushanbe have recorded at least 5 pedestrian fatalities and 22 serious injuries as a result of pedestrian-vehicle collisions on the road above.
During a visit to Dushanbe in 2018, this underpass came to the attention of EASST and the Safer Roads Foundation. Together we committed to doing something about it. In May this year, with local support from Young Generation of Tajikistan and the Dushanbe Mayor’s Office we were delighted to see the newly renovated underpass unveiled.
Renovations, carried out by local company iDesign, have included: improved lighting, improved flooring, walls & ceiling, new pedestrian signage, the installation of CCTV cameras, and crucially, the installation of disabled access ramps.
An agreement with Dushanbe authorities has committed them to ensuring the underpass is monitored and cleaned regularly so that it remains an inviting option for people.
The new underpass has only been open for a month, but already many more people are using it including university students, women, families and people with disabilities. Our hope, as we continue to collect data, is that it will also lead to a significant reduction in pedestrian casualties around the zoo.