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Getting started

"Getting started" can be daunting - the needs are overwhelming, resources are scarce and staff time is limited. Every community is faced with the questions of "Where do I start?" and "How do I get going?" While it is not the intent of this guide to provide an exhaustive discussion of implementation strategies, some direction is useful.

Priorities: Since there are never enough resources to address all the needs, project priorities need to be established. To create priorities requires clear program objectives:

Safety: The number one objective should be to reduce the number and severity of crashes involving pedestrians. To accomplish this will require:
    a) a good understanding of the types of crashes that are occurring in your community, and

    b) application of appropriate countermeasures to address these crashes.

The charts provided in this guide are intended to help select the countermeasures that will be most effective in addressing selected types of crash problems.

Access: The second objective should be to create an accessible community where all pedestrians, including those with disabilities, can reach their desired destinations. Typically, this begins with being able to safely walk along streets (i.e. sidewalks) and across streets at intersections and other appropriate locations.

Aesthetics: It is not enough to simply have a safe, accessible community - it should also be an aesthetic place to live and work. Landscaping, lighting and other pedestrian amenities help create a "livable community" and should be considered when making pedestrian improvements.

One step at a time: To create a safe, walkable community, take one step at a time. Sidewalks, curb bulbs and other pedestrian improvements are installed intersection by intersection, block by block. Individually, they do not create a safe, livable community. Collectively, they create the infrastructure needed for a great place to work, play and do business. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Community concerns: Be very sensitive to community concerns. This is the only way to build community pride and ownership that is essential to long-term success. Some of the problems identified in this guide will not be an issue in your community and some of the countermeasures may be perceived as too expensive (at least initially). There are likely to be countermeasures that your community puts on hold for a few years until a community consensus is reached. Conversely, there are likely to be things you want to pursue that are not even mentioned in this planning guide.

Deliverables: It is very important to produce immediate deliverables that people can see. For example, a new section of sidewalk or a freshly painted crosswalk is visible while a transportation plan is a paper document that may never be seen or appreciated by the public. A program, to keep its momentum, needs some quick wins. They create the sense that something is happening, that government is responsive.

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.

getting started

construction strategies


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