Street Furniture/Walking Environment:

Sidewalks should be continuous and should be part of a system that provides access to goods, services, transit, and homes. Well-designed walking environments are enhanced by urban design elements and street furniture, such as benches, bus shelters, trash receptacles, and water fountains.

Sidewalks and walkways should be kept clear of poles, signposts, newspaper racks, and other obstacles that could block the path, obscure a driver’s view or pedestrian visibility, or become a tripping hazard. Benches, water fountains, bicycle parking racks, and other street furniture should be carefully placed to create an unobstructed path for pedestrians. More information on the requirements for street furniture can be found in the Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights of Way.4 Such areas must also be properly maintained and kept clear of debris, overgrown landscaping, tripping hazards, or areas where water accumulates. Snow removal is also important for maintaining pedestrian safety and mobility. In most areas, local ordinances give property owners the responsibility of removing snow within 12 to 48 hours after a storm.

Walking areas should also be interesting for pedestrians and provide a secure environment. Storefronts should exist at street level and walking areas should be well lit and have good sightlines.



  Purpose
• Enhance the pedestrian environment.
• Enliven commercial districts by fostering community life.
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  Considerations
• Good-quality street furniture will show that the community values its public spaces and is more cost-effective in the long run.
• Include plans for landscape irrigation and maintenance at the outset.
• Ensure proper placement of furniture; do not block pedestrian walkway or curb ramps or create sightline problems.
• Ensure adequacy of overhead clearances and detectability of protruding objects for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired.
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  Estimated Cost
Varies depending on the type of furniture, the material out of which it is constructed, and the amount of planting material used.
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  Case Studies
Clemson, SC 
Eureka, CA 
Las Vegas, NV 
Tempe, AZ 
Hendersonville, NC 
Santa Monica, CA 
Madison, WI 
West Hollywood, CA 
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Adapted from Making Streets That Work, Seattle, 1996

Photo by Michael Ronkin
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Photo by Michael King
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U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration