Walkable Streets


What makes a walkable street?  Whether we are designing a new neighborhood or considering improvements to an existing neighborhood there are tried and true rules of thumb that can help us design streets that contribute to walkability.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

  1. Context-Sensitive: The desired character of the place must be determined first and then the streets can be designed in a way that conforms to that character.
  2. Reasonable traffic volumes: Instead of adding lanes to move cars the same amount of traffic can be accomodated in the local area using multiple thru-streets with a smaller number of lanes. It has in fact been determined that adding lanes to a street is a much less efficient means of moving traffic than utilizing multiple, small thru-streets.  Lower traffic volumes on a given street increase pedestrian safety and also make for a quieter, more pleasant environment on the sidewalk.
  3. Plan some streets without cars altogether:  Pedestrian-ways can make some of the most amazing, memorable places.  Removing cars from the picture, either full-time or during certain days/hours, can work very well in the right situation.  A great and important option to keep in mind.
  4. Narrow intersections:  Reduce the number of lanes at crosswalks.  Especially in populated areas the safety of pedestrians has to outweigh the convenience of drivers.
  5. Narrow and textured vehicle lanes, visible crosswalks:  Speeds for streets in an area where walking is desired should be under 35mph.  Narrower travel lanes helps to slow vehicle speeds and helps reduce pedestrian crossing times.  Textured pavers and visible crosswalks also help to slow vehicles and help make drivers more aware of the presence of pedestrians.  Crosswalks should be wide, raised, paved with contrasting materials, and well lit at night.  Rougher, different-colored paving for parts of the street in the busiest pedestrian areas helps to communicate to drivers that the car is visiting a pedestrian-dominated place.
  6. Off-street parking behind buildings:  Parking behind buildings allows building front entrances to be located closer to the street.  This makes for easier, safer pedestrian access from the street and helps to create a safe and inviting “pedestrian realm” in front of buildings.  This is important in commercial areas as well as residential areas.  Parking should be accessed via alleys and rear lanes on most neighborhood blocks to minimize interruptions to the sidewalk.
  7. On-Street Parking:  On-street parking slows vehicle speeds and provides an additional layer of protection for those on the sidewalk.
  8. Street trees, awnings, galleries, and arcades:  All streets in a walkable neighborhood should be lined with street trees.  The trees provide shade for the street and the sidewalk, and protection for pedestrians.  In commercial areas awnings, galleries, and arcades provide additional shade and comfort.
  9. Wide sidewalks:  Plenty of wide, shaded sidewalks encourage people to walk and make walking trips safe and pleasant.  Sidewalks can be optional on some out of the way streets with very low traffic speeds and volumes near the neighborhood edge.
  10. Small blocks:  Lots of direct connections from the neighborhood edge to the center are helpful in increasing walkability.  Small blocks help with this.  Cul-de-sacs should be avoided.  Neighborhood streets in populated areas should connect to their surroundings in all directions.  For older disconnected neighborhoods pedestrian-friendly connections can sometimes be made just by adding a gate and a sidewalk, a couple of walking/biking trails, or a pedestrian bridge over a drainage feature.
Barry watkins
Walkable Brevard
Viera, Florida, USA
Ph: 321-355-2747  Email: walkablebrevard@gmail.com
Brevard County residents:  Do you want to see what pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly improvements might make sense for your neighborhood?  Would you like to see more walkable and bikeable places built throughout Brevard County?  Contact us at Walkable Brevard.  Come join our Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/walkablebrevard.  Contact us to bring one of our Walkability Workshops to your local area.
This entry was posted in Feature Articles, The Street and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Walkable Streets

  1. Pingback: FL Today: Brevard Dangerous for Pedestrians #2 | Walkable Brevard

  2. Pingback: Rethinking A1A and US192 | Walkable Brevard

  3. Pingback: Walkable Streets? – Walkable Communities

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s