Best planning and implementation toolbox


Purpose of Tool:
Pedestrian-friendly design creates places where people can meet, shop, recreate, and enjoy themselves walking. Pedestrian-friendly environments follow one simple rule— the pedestrian is the priority (not vehicular traffic). These areas tend to share the following physical characteristics(1):

  • Pedestrians are effectively separated from moving traffic for safety purposes. Separation is provided through the use of wide sidewalks, on-street parking, landscaped areas, or other physical barriers.
  • Pedestrians can cross the street safely and easily. Intersections are designed to reduce pedestrian crossing distances, crosswalks are clearly marked and aligned with sidewalks, and pedestrian crosswalk signals are automatic or easy to use.
  • The streets are full of life. In pedestrian-friendly retail areas, storefronts and buildings are continuous and contain windows that create visual interest and variety.
  • In commercial areas, on-street parking is available to support retail businesses.
  • Well-designed paving, street furniture (such as seating areas, planters, etc.) and lighting make the public sidewalk a place where people want to be.
  • Employment, residential and commercial districts are connected by a safe and easily walkable environment.
  • Prototype design standards are used consistently to encourage pedestrian-friendly areas.

    Benefits of Using Tool:
    Pedestrian-friendly design has the following benefits(2):
  • Whenever walking becomes a reasonable alternative to driving, some people will walk rather than drive, and taking these extra cars off the road will reduce vehicle miles traveled, having a positive impact on air quality.
  • Fitness experts agree that regular daily activity is the key to good health. Walking is the most affordable and convenient way for most of us to stay active.
  • Pedestrian-oriented streets encourage shoppers to linger. Retail and commercial developers have learned that a walkable environment sells commercial real estate.
  • Street trees not only attract pedestrians, they also help clean the air, reduce storm water runoff, and moderate temperatures.
  • Walking is the cheapest form of transport for everyone. Walkable communities have the most affordable and most efficient transportation system available.
  • Streets that draw more pedestrians and encourage social interaction tend to have lower crime rates and other social problems.
  • Cities and towns that offer interesting streets with active pedestrian life become vibrant cultural and economic centers that draw visitors from the surrounding region.

    In just a few years, investments in pedestrian-oriented streetscape improvements may show visible and economic results in a community. These improvements can help make the community healthier, more vibrant, and a more attractive place to live, work and own a business.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    According to the Federal Highway Administration Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System, in order to use a pedestrian-oriented design approach, the following enhancements should be considered:
  • Sidewalks and Walkways
    • While continuous walkways are the goal, retrofitting areas originally developed without them will usually occur in phases.
    • In retrofitting streets that do not have a continuous or accessible walkway system, locations near transit stops, schools, parks, public buildings, and other areas with high concentrations of pedestrians should be the highest priority.
    • Street furniture (i.e. benches, planters, etc.) placement should not restrict pedestrian flow.
  • Curb Ramps
    • Follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) design guidelines.
    • Texture patterns must be detectable to blind pedestrians.
  • Marked Crosswalks and Enhancements
    • Crosswalk locations should be convenient for pedestrian access.
    • Crosswalk markings alone are unlikely to benefit pedestrian safety. Ideally, crosswalks should be used in conjunction with other measures, such as curb extensions, to improve the safety of a pedestrian crossing, particularly on multi-lane roads with average daily traffic above about 10,000 vehicles per day.
    • Marked crosswalks are important for pedestrians with vision loss.
    • Crosswalk markings must align with the ramps so that a wheelchair user may remain within a marked crosswalk to access the ramp.
  • Transit Stops
    • Ensure adequate room to allow wheelchair users access to the transit vehicle.
    • Ensure a clear and comfortable path for passing pedestrians when determining the location of transit shelters.
    • Locate transit stops on the far side of marked crosswalks, so that pedestrians cross behind stopped transit vehicles.
    • Transit stations must be wheelchair accessible, which generally results in long ramps on either end of overpasses.
  • Roadway Lighting Improvements
    • Ensure that pedestrian walkways and crosswalks are well-lit.
    • Install lighting on both sides of wide streets and along all streets in commercial districts.
    • Use uniform lighting levels.
  • Other Considerations
    • Lighting, drainage, graffiti removal, and security are major concerns with underpasses.

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    According to the HWA PEDSAFE resources, special requirements and considerations for implementing pedestrian-oriented design include the following efforts:

  • Develop prototypes that are consistent with local community conditions and respectful of the local culture.
  • Develop a maintenance program for bicycle facilities.
  • Use the Walkability Checklist published by the FHWA, to help determine where improvements are needed or to evaluate streetscapes after improvements are made.
  • Develop and implement the plan of action, which should include clearly defined short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.
  • Begin seeking out immediate sources of funding for design and other initial costs. Tap into potential contributions from various stakeholders, including private developers, cities, counties, special improvement districts, regional agencies, and State Departments of Transportation in your area.
  • Prepare a design code/revised ordinance/design guidelines for streetscape improvements.
  • Invite public review of the code. Make necessary revisions to the code as a result of community preferences.
  • Streamline the permitting process and consider other incentives to attract new development.
  • Hire a staff person and give them adequate authority to oversee implementation.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    Many factors and resources are needed to implement high-quality pedestrian-friendly design measures. One approach is to establish a pedestrian-friendly design task force that includes elected officials, representatives of the local police and public works departments, the school district, parents, teachers, students, and other concerned neighbors to get maximum community input and buy-in..

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
    Communities, agencies and individuals that have successfully implemented pedestrian-friendly design include:

    City of Berkeley – Transportation Division
    2180 Milvia Street, 5th Floor
    Berkeley, CA 94704
    Phone: (510) 981-7000

    City of Boulder - Transportation Operations Department
    PO Box 791
    Boulder, CO 80306
    Phone: (303) 441-3266
    Fax: (303) 441-4271

    City of Clemson
    Planning and Codes Administration Department
    PO Box 1566
    Clemson, SC 29633
    Phone: (864) 653-2050

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    In many cases, implementing pedestrian-friendly design has helped meet community goals and objectives and improved quality of life. For example, the implementation of pedestrian-friendly design in the I-55 Corridor Study in Colorado showed:
  • Decreased traffic speeds
  • Decreased traffic volume
  • Increased bicycle and pedestrian volume
  • Increased traffic calming effect

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
    See the following sources for more information:
    Walkable Communities, Inc.
    Phone: (386) 454-3304,

    Partners for a Walkable America
    Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
    USDOT-The Walkability Checklist

    FHWA Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System

    Livable Streets Toolbox- China Town Renewal Project


    1-2 Pedestrian Friendly Streets-Revitalizing Cities Series, Debra Ames, Marketing Director, Portland, Oregon.