walkinginfo.org -> part of the pedestrian and bicycle information center
sitemap about us links join email list ask us a question
  search     go to bicyclinginfo.org
community problems and solutions design and engineering digital library education and enforcement health and fitness insight transit research and development rails and trails policy and planning pedestrian crashes news and events outreach and promotion
design & engineering home

Pedestrian Facility Design
Roadway Design
Intersection Design
Traffic Calming
Traffic Management
Signals and Signs
Other Measures

its technologies (pedsmart)


Sidewalks and Walkways:
Sidewalks and walkways are “pedestrian lanes” that provide people with space to travel within the public right-of-way that is separated from roadway vehicles. They also provide places for children to walk, run, skate, ride bikes, and play. Sidewalks are associated with significant reductions in pedestrian collisions with motor vehicles.(1) Such facilities also improve mobility for pedestrians and provide access for all types of pedestrian travel: to and from home, work, parks, schools, shopping areas, transit stops, etc. Walkways should be part of every new and renovated facility and every effort should be made to retrofit streets that currently do not have sidewalks.

While sidewalks are typically made of concrete, less expensive walkways may be constructed of asphalt, crushed stone, or other materials if they are properly maintained and accessible (firm, stable, and slip-resistant). In more rural areas, in particular, a “side path” made of one of these materials may be suitable. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) guidelines recommend a minimum width of 1.5 m (5 ft) for a sidewalk or walkway, which allows two people to pass comfortably or to walk side-by-side. Wider sidewalks should be installed near schools, at transit stops, in downtown areas, or anywhere high concentrations of pedestrians exist. Sidewalks should be continuous along both sides of a street and sidewalks should be fully accessible to all pedestrians, including those in wheelchairs.

A buffer zone of 1.2 to 1.8 m (4 to 6 ft) is desirable and should be provided to separate pedestrians from the street. The buffer zone will vary according to the street type. In downtown or commercial districts, a street furniture zone is usually appropriate. Parked cars and/or bicycle lanes can provide an acceptable buffer zone. In more suburban or rural areas, a landscape strip is generally most suitable. Careful planning of sidewalks and walkways is important in a neighborhood or area in order to provide adequate safety and mobility. For example, there should be a flat sidewalk provided in areas where driveways slope to the roadway.

• Create the appropriate facility for the walking area of the public right-of-way.
• Improve pedestrian safety dramatically.
top of page

• While continuous walkways are the goal, retrofitting areas without them will usually occur in phases. Lack of a seamless system is no excuse not to provide parts of the system.
• In retrofitting streets that do not have a continuous or accessible system, locations near transit stops, schools, parks, public buildings, and other areas with high concentrations of pedestrians should be the highest priority.
• Street furniture placement should not restrict pedestrian flow.
top of page

  Estimated Cost
The cost for concrete curbs and sidewalks is approximately $49/linear meter ($15/linear foot) for curbing and $118/square meter ($11/square foot) for walkways. Asphalt curbs and walkways are less costly, but require more maintenance, and are somewhat more difficult to walk and roll on for pedestrians with mobility impairments.
top of page

print page bookmark page send to a friend
view purpose
view considerations
view estimated cost

Making Streets That Work, Seattle, 1996

Photo by Dan Burden


Maintained by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center with funding from
the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.