What is a Pedestrian Barrier?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2020
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In high-traffic areas and on busy streets, local governments and private companies often look for ways to keep pedestrians safe from oncoming cars. When major events like parades, concerts, or sporting events draw crowds, there is also often a need for designated pedestrian areas as a means of crowd control. Pedestrian barriers, be they permanent or temporary, are a popular solution for these and other pedestrian control scenarios. A pedestrian barrier is any device that aims to keep people in a certain designated area, and may take the form of a sidewalk, a viewing platform, or an organized line, or any device that aims to control the number of people in any one place.

Temporary pedestrian barriers are usually the most popular, and the most widely recognized. A temporary pedestrian barrier is often no more than a low fence made up of adjoining sections. The fencing is designed to mark approved pedestrian areas, and to designate the boundary between onlookers and some other activity. This sort of pedestrian barrier is commonly erected along public streets for parades and processions as a crowd barrier, to designate a construction zone where pedestrians are temporarily prohibited, or outside of popular venues or events as a way to force an organized queue. Temporary fence barriers can also be used to close streets off for various events.


Some pedestrian barriers are permanent fixtures. A pedestrian barrier that creates a walkway from a shopping mall into a parking garage is an example of such a barrier, as is a low fence between a median and a busy street. Most permanent pedestrian barriers are made of concrete or metal and, depending on location, may be designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.

Almost any device that is used to order or limit pedestrian movement can be a pedestrian barrier. For example, turnstiles operate as pedestrian barriers in many circumstances. A turnstile at the entrance to a train station is form of pedestrian barrier because it controls the number of individuals who can enter the station at one time. It prevents crowds from swarming a platform by funneling people through one by one. The same is true for turnstiles granting access to public parks, zoos, and even some corporate offices. Aside from slowing crowds down, turnstiles are often able to collect data on number of entrants, which can be useful to site owners and crowd control analysts.

One of the main goals of pedestrian barriers is pedestrian safety. Use of barriers can help keep pedestrians from getting hurt, either by stepping into traffic or getting lost or trampled in a fast-moving crowd. They control pedestrian movement and location, and in so doing foster an ordered space where people and other events and activities can coexist.


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