Site Planning

Site plans are created before a new building, parking lot, or other facility is built. They are the last step of most long-range planning activities, but remain a critical part of ensuring that pedestrian needs are accommodated by the built environment. Site plans — which are basically very large scale maps of a property — show everything that will be built on that property (or "site"), including buildings, paved surfaces, regraded terrain, etc. They should conform to local and state development regulations, such as stormwater management, design codes, and requirements for transportation facilities. If a pedestrian or bicycle facility is not shown on a site plan, it is very unlikely that it will be there when the project is built.

The details of what to include in a site plan are directly derived from the details of how a pedestrian facility will be designed. The exact components of what should be on a site plan, therefore, will vary depending on what need the pedestrian facility is intended to meet. Because many of these details are determined as part of the design and engineering stages, inclusion of pedestrian facilities in a site plan will happen by default if the designer is addressing pedestrian needs. The techniques for including pedestrian needs in the actual design of a building or facility are described more in the Engineering section.

Many local planning departments rely on checklists for site plan reviews, and these checklists often include basic pedestrian items, such as ensuring safe passage for pedestrians through a parking lot, connecting to existing sidewalks, etc. Although these checklists usually show a relatively simplistic understanding of basic pedestrian needs and movement patterns, they do ensure that pedestrian issues are addressed as part of the site plan review process.

Communities that do not use checklists for site plan review must rely on the expertise or diligence of individual planners, or other officials involved in site plan review, to ensure that pedestrian needs are accommodated when new development or re-development occurs. The success of relying on site plan reviews to encourage pedestrian-friendly development frequently hinges on particular individuals reviewing the site plans. Local planners should be encouraged to understand the nuances of site-level designs that could support pedestrian movements.