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Guidelines for the Provision of Sidewalks

Research Problem Statement


Agencies responsible for the development of transportation facilities are increasingly encouraged to consider provisions for all transportation modes during project development.  Funds for transportation improvements are scarce and agencies are responsible for ensuring that tax dollars are spent in an efficient and prudent manner.  Improved guidelines are needed pertaining to when pedestrian facilities should be provided in transportation projects and what type of pedestrian facility is appropriate, balancing the needs of all modes.  For example, guidance is needed on when a sidewalk on one side of the street is appropriate and when sidewalks should be provided on both sides of the street.  Research is needed to provide guidance related to land use, proximity to pedestrian generators such as schools, parks, shopping, and transit, etc. in determining whether to provide sidewalks.  Guidance is also needed on the appropriate sidewalk width for various facilities in varying locations.


Literature Search Summary


Several research efforts that have been completed or are underway relating to this problem statement:


·                    AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities.   July 2004.   AASHTO.  AASHTO Publication Code DS-GPF-1.  This guide is mostly about how, rather than about where, to provide pedestrian facilities, but Section 2.3.2 gives example criteria for establishing priorities.  Section 2.3.4 has a good procedure for phased development of sidewalks.


·                    ADA/ABA Accessibilities Guidelines (ADA/ABA-AG) July 23, 2004.  This will become a standard when USDOJ and USDOT complete their notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures, which are expected to take one to two years.  This document focuses on how to make pedestrian facilities accessible, not when they should be provided.


·                    A Review of Pedestrian Safety Research in the United States and Abroad.   January 2004.  FHWA.  FHWA Publication No. FHWA-RD-03-042.  This report is an update of the synthesis of safety research done in 1982 and again in 1991.


·                    CV Zegeer;  Seiderman, C; Lagerwey, P; Cynecki, M; Ronkin, M; Schneider, B. Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide-Providing Safety and Mobility.  March 2002.  And also known as, Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide-Providing Safety and Mobility.  FHWA.  March 2002.  FHWA Publication No. FHWA-RD-01-102.  Appendix B, Recommended Guidelines/Priorities for Sidewalks and Walkways, Contains substantial criteria for new construction and retrofitting sidewalks based on vehicle speed, street classification, pedestrian crash data, school walking zones, transit routes, neighborhoods with low vehicle ownership, urban centers/neighborhood commercial areas, other pedestrian generators, and continuity of walking systems.  Recommended Guidelines are illustrated in table form on Page 154.


·                    Pedestrian Facility Design Course Number 142045.  National Highway Institute.  August 2002.  FHWA.


·                    Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access, Part II, Best Practices Design Guide.  November 2001.  FHWA. Chapter 3: Integrating Pedestrians into the Project Planning Process, draws extensively from Planning, Design, and Operations of Pedestrian Facilities:  Unpublished Draft Final Report (2000), NCHRP, Project 15-20, TRB, Washington , D.C.  The chapter includes recommendations for sidewalks where land use planning anticipates pedestrian activity; connect nearby urban communities; near schools, local businesses and industrial plants that result in pedestrian concentrations in rural and suburban areas;  where roadside and land development causes pedestrians to move along high-speed highways; rural areas with higher speed traffic and a lack of lighting; and along any street or highway without shoulders even if there is light pedestrian traffic.  FHWA Administrator Mary Peters signed a memorandum issuing this document as FHWA guidance for designing and constructing accessible pedestrian facilities.


·                    Design Guidance, Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel:  A Recommended Approach.  February 28, 2000.  FHWA.  In a memorandum to field offices, FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle stated that bicycling and walking facilities will be incorporated into all transportation projects unless exceptional circumstances exist.  Those circumstances are spelled out in the document.


·                    Florida Pedestrian Planning and Design Handbook.   April 1999.  Florida Department of Transportation. This is a 181-page handbook covering all aspects of pedestrian facilities.


·                    Designing Sidewalks and Trails, Part I, Review of Existing Guidelines and Practices.  August 1999.  FHWA.


·                    Guidance on Bicycle and Pedestrian Provisions of the Federal-aid Program. February 24, 1999.  FHWA.  FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle in a memorandum to field offices stated, we expect every transportation agency to make accommodations for bicycling and walking accommodations a routine part of their planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance activities.


·                    NCHRP Project 20-07,  Task 105,  Planning, Design , and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities.  Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee. 1999.


Research Objective


Task 1.      Review the existing guides and similar publications.  Conduct a survey of local, state, and federal agencies to determine their practices and determine if there is a need for additional research.


Task 2.      If it is determined in Phase 1 that additional research is needed, conduct that research.


Task 3.      Develop a final report of findings.  Where appropriate, the report should include appendices with recommended language for use in the AASHTO Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets; the AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design, Operations of Pedestrian Facilities; the FHWA Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices;  and other documents as appropriate.


Estimate of Problem Funding and Research Period


Recommended funding:  

$250,000 to $500,000


Research period: 

12 to 24 months


Urgency, Payoff Potential, and Implementation


This research topic was selected by the AASHTO Technical Committee on Geometric Design, the TRB Committee on Geometric Design, and the TRB Committee on Operational Effects of Geometrics at their combined meeting In June 2004 as having high/moderate priority and needed within the next three years.  There is a need to develop guides for the implementation of sidewalks which relate to land use, proximity to schools and transit routes, connectivity, and not just to volumes of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.


Sponsoring Committee:AKD10, Performance Effects on Geometric Design
Date Posted:06/01/2007
Date Modified:06/03/2007
Index Terms:Americans with Disabilities Act, Physically handicapped persons, Disabled passengers, Transportation disadvantaged persons, Sidewalks, Guidelines, Transportation planning, Pedestrian areas, Pedestrian safety, Pedestrians, Walkways, Bicycle travel, Bikeways, Geometric design,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Public Transportation
Safety and Human Factors
Terminals and Facilities

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