Sidewalks are the fundamental element of a sidewalk network, providing dedicated space for students and parents walking to school. An effective network of sidewalks includes standards to ensure adequate width and connectivity, dedicated space for landscaping and street furniture as appropriate, and the design elements for crossings described earlier.
A Continuous Network
The most important element of a good sidewalk network is continuity. Closing gaps in sidewalk networks can both significantly improve pedestrian mobility and enhance safety in a community. Sometimes pedestrians will use a street regardless of whether or not facilities are provided, so filling key network gaps can reduce instances of walking in the roadway and crossing the street outside of designated crosswalks.
A comprehensive sidewalk policy can assist in achieving this continuous network. References include:
FHWA Pedestrian Facilities User Guide
GTC MPO Bike and Pedestrian Supportive Code
A usable sidewalk will be at least 4’ wide and be free of obstructions, including utility poles, poorly placed street furniture, substandard width, missing curb ramps, overly tilted surfaces, and roots uplifting sidewalk tiles. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides specific standards to make sidewalks accessible to everyone. Reference the United States Access Board for the latest standards.
Pedestrian Scale Lighting
Personal safety is often as important to pedestrians as traffic safety. Sidewalks must feel safe for pedestrians during all hours of use. Smaller lighting features, called “pedestrian-scale” lighting can minimize light pollution and establish a street as appropriate for pedestrians.