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Gateways | Landscaping | Specific Paving Treatments

Complementary Tools
Specific Paving Treatments

Paving materials are important to the function and look of a street, both in the road and on the sidewalk. Occasionally paving materials in and of themselves act as a traffic calming device, e.g. when the street is paved in brick or cobblestone. However, some of these materials may be noisy, not friendly to cyclists, pedestrians, wheelchairs or snow plow blades. In particular, cobblestones should not be used in the expected pedestrian or cycle path although they can be used as aesthetic elements in a streetscape design.

The pedestrian walkway material should be even and not slippery. Concrete is usually the preferred walking surface. A different look can be achieved by using stamped concrete or concrete pavers, which are available in a variety of colors and shapes. They can also be used on the top of raised devices.

It is important to ensure crosswalk visibility. Textured crosswalks should be marked with reflective lines since they are not as visible, especially at night or on rainy days. In general, brick, granite and cobblestones should not be used in crosswalks.

Colored paving can often enhance the function of portions of the roadway, such as a colored bicycle lane. This can create the perception of street narrowing in addition to enhancing the travel facility for cyclists.

Brick or cobblestone streets help slow traffic and create a feeling that the street is not a highway or fast-moving arterial.

The material provided on this page is from the FHWA publication "Pedestrian Facilities User Guide." This guide is currently under review by practicioners and others in the field. Subsequently, the material provided on this page is subject to change in the future.

Roadway Narrowing

Lateral / Horizontal Shifts

Raised Devices

Complementary Tools

Whole Street Designs


• Sends a visual cue about the function of a street. An asphalt surface “reads” as motor vehicle space; brick or pavers imply at least a shared space.

• Aesthetic enhancement of a street.

• Can delineate separate space for pedestrians or cyclists.


• Slippery surfaces such as smooth granite and uneven surfaces such as cobblestones should not be used in the primary pedestrian or bicycle travel path. Bumpy surfaces may be especially uncomfortable for wheelchair users.

• Coordinate choice and placement of materials with maintenance agencies.

• Design and maintenance must ensure crosswalk visibility over time.

• Using materials such as bricks and cobblestones may increase the cost of construction and maintentance.

Estimated Cost:

Variable; materials requiring hand labor (cobblestones or pavers) have a higher cost.

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