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> Planning VCT - Street and Sidewalk Design

Street and Sidewalk Design

Photo courtesy of / Dan Burden

Sidewalk Design Communities can encourage pedestrian activity, improve the appearance of neighborhoods and central business districts, and enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists through appropriate street and sidewalk design. Elements of pedestrian-encouraging street and sidewalk design include:
1) short blocks with narrow lane widths (that slow down traffic);
2) minimum widths for sidewalks (generally 5 feet);
3) landscaping to create a more comfortable walking environment and shield sidewalk users from traffic (for instance, street trees that provide shade and a buffer from the street activity);
4) on-street parking (providing more buffering from traffic);
5) rear-lot alley vehicle access for homes;
6) clearly marked pedestrian zones, crosswalks and bicycle routes;
7) uniform distances that buildings may be set back from the street;
8) uniform distances between buildings (encouraging infill development); and
9) awnings on buildings and pedestrian-scaled business displays and building design.

Enhanced street design not only increases safety for pedestrians and cyclists, but also improves ease of mobility for persons with disabilities and the elderly.

One way communities can try to create the types of streetscapes they value is to replicate existing streetscapes in their, or nearby, communities that "work." By actually going out to the streets to be replicated, taking measurements and notes, and creating design standards based on those field notes, a municipality can create street and sidewalk design standards that mimic what is actually in place in those areas.

Communities can also modify their subdivision regulations to require that new developments incorporate pedestrian friendly street and sidewalk design features. The development of standards and incentives to support pedestrian activity prior to construction can help to avoid costly retrofitting of streets at a later date.

Related Principles:

neighborhoods nodal development economic development transportation

NeighborhoodsVital Communities PrinciplesNodal DevelopmentHousingNatural ResourcesEconomic DevelopmentTransportationAgriculture