Communities are asking that motor vehicle speeds be reduced
on their neighborhood streets, that streets be made accessible to persons
with disabilities, and that streetscapes be improved to make them more
inviting to pedestrians. Some of the most important issues to the public
are safety, access, and aesthetics. This chapter discusses some of the
issues related to setting priorities and implementing needed pedestrian
"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.
Since all pedestrian needs will not be able to be addressed
immediately, project priorities need to be established. To
create priorities requires several program objectives:
One objective should be to reduce the number and severity of crashes involving pedestrians. To
accomplish this will require: (1) a good understanding of the types of crashes that are occurring in
your community, and (2) application of appropriate countermeasures to address these crashes. The
information provided in this guide is intended to help select the countermeasures that will be
most effective in addressing selected types of crash problems.
A 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 walk
safely along streets (i.e., sidewalks) and across
streets at intersections and other appropriate
It is not enough to simply have a safe, accessible
community—it should also be an aesthetically
pleasing 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 pedestrian
system is greater than the sum of its parts.
Be very sensitive to community concerns. Public participation
will 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 tools may be perceived as too
expensive (at least initially). There probably will be measures that your
community puts on hold for a few years until a community consensus is
reached. Conversely, there probably will be measures that your community
would like to pursue that are not even mentioned in this planning guide.
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. To
keep its momentum, a program needs some "quick
wins." They create the sense that something is
happening and that government is responsive.
There are many ways to accomplish projects. Be creative, take
advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Here are some suggestions:
Regulation of New Development and Redevelopment
Developers can be required to install public infrastructure
such as sidewalks, curb ramps, and traffic signals. In addition, zoning
requirements can be written to allow for or require narrower streets,
shorter blocks, and mixed-use development. Encouraging developers and
community leaders to focus on basic pedestrian needs will benefit the
community and increase the attractiveness of the developments themselves.
Consider expanding/initiating annual programs to make
small, visible improvements. Examples include sidewalk
replacement programs, curb-ramp programs, annual tree-planting
programs, etc. This creates momentum and community
support. Several considerations should be made when
developing these programs:
- Give priority to locations that are used by schoolchildren, the elderly,
those with disabilities, and locations that provide access to transit.
- Consider giving preference to requests from neighborhood groups, especially
those that meet other priorities, such as addressing a crash problem.
- Evaluate your construction options.
Consider having city crews do work requested by
citizens to provide fast customer service while
bidding out some of the staff-generated projects.
"Piggybacking" pedestrian improvements onto
capital projects is one of the best ways to make major
improvements in a community. Sidewalks, pedestrian
ramps, landscaping, lighting, and other amenities
can be included in road projects, utility projects,
and private construction in public rights-of-way (e.g.,
cable television, high-speed fiber optics, etc.).
To accomplish this, there are several things that
can be done:
- Contact all State and regional agencies,
and local public and private utilities that do
work in public rights-of-way. Secure their 5-year
project plans as well as their long-range plans.
Then, work with them to make sure that the streets
are restored in the way that works for your city.
- Look internally at all capital projects. Make sure that every opportunity
to make improvements is taken advantage of at the time of construction.
- Consider combining small projects with larger capital projects as a way
of saving money. Generally, bid prices drop as quantities increase.
Increasingly, public improvements are realized through
public/private partnerships. These partnerships can
take many forms. Examples include: Community Development
Corporations, neighborhood organizations, grants from
foundations, direct industry support, and involvement
of individual citizens. In fact, many public projects,
whether they are traffic-calming improvements, street
trees, or the restoration of historic buildings, are
the result of individual people getting involved and
deciding to make a difference. This involvement doesn’t
just happen, it needs to be encouraged and supported
by local governmental authorities.
Pedestrian projects and programs can be funded by federal,
State, local, private, or any combination of sources.
A summary of federal pedestrian funding opportunities
can be viewed at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikped/index.htm.
Communities that are most successful at securing funds
often have the following ingredients of success:
- Community consensus on what
should be accomplished increases the likelihood
of successfully funding a project. A divided or
uninvolved community will find it more difficult
to raise funds than a community that gives broad
support to pedestrian improvement programs.
Funding a project is hard work; usually, there
are no shortcuts. It usually takes a great amount
of effort by many people using multiple funding
sources to complete a project successfully. Be
aggressive, apply for many different community
grants. While professional grant-writing specialists
can help, they are no substitute for community
involvement and one-on-one contact (the "people
part" of fund raising).
- Successful projects
typically have one or more "can do"
people in the right place at the right time, who
provide the energy and vision to see a project
through. Many successful "can do" politicians
get their start as successful neighborhood activists.
Funds, once secured, should always be used to
leverage additional funds. For example, a grant
from a local foundation could be used as the required
match for a Transportation Equity Act for the
21st Century (TEA-21) Enhancement grant.